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No Fault Divorce: What you need to know

by Ridley&Hall in Divorce, Domestic Violence, Family & Matrimonial, Natalie Stephenson-Quayle posted October 7, 2021.

Divorce can be a very hard subject when speaking to those who are currently going through it. Sometimes, those who are going through it, must indicate some type of blame to the other party, however, this is not always the case. This can cause unwanted animosity between the parties and potentially cause a delay in the divorce process.

Under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 c.18, there are 5 facts a petition for divorce can rely upon which show an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. These include:

  • Adultery:

This consists of one of those in the marriage having sexual intercourse with another person outside of the marriage

  • Unreasonable Behaviour:

This includes, but is not limited to, physical or emotional abuse, alcoholism, drug taking or refusing to pay living expenses

  • Desertion:

This is where your partner has left you for a period of two years

  • Separation for 2 years with both parties in agreement:

Where both parties have separated for 2 years and agree they should file for divorce

  • Separation for 5 years with both parties not in agreement:

Where both parties have lived apart for 5 years and do not need to agree to file for divorce

However, following the decision of the 2018 Owens v Owens case, many professionals believed that divorce law needed reforming. In 2018, the Law Society discussed with the Ministry of Justice their plans for the law reforms in relation to divorce law. In April 2019, reforms to divorce law were welcomed and then in June 2019, the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill was given the Royal Assent. Despite the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 c.11 being given the Royal Assent, the Act is still being finalised and therefore has yet to come into place, with a projected implementation date of 6th April 2022. The delay in this Act coming into place is disadvantageous for people who want to get divorced currently but do not want to place blame.

Legal Aid is available for divorce proceedings; however, it is means and merits tested. This means the person seeking legal aid must be on low income and be a victim of domestic violence. If there is no domestic violence involved, but the client is on low income, then a court fee remission can be applied for. This does not mean you will receive legal advice from a solicitor, this is still something you would have to pay for, meaning it can be costly. ‘No Fault Divorce’ is set to be cheaper than the usual process of divorce as the parties are to agree. Yet, if there are disputes about money, belongings or child arrangements, the process could take as long as the normal divorce process causing it to be just as expensive.

‘No Fault Divorce’ doesn’t prohibit the other party placing blame, as they can still petition under unreasonable behaviour if they did want to place blame, but it gives them the option to divorce a little more amicably without placing blame. This allows the divorce process to be amicable, allowing it to run smoothly without any conflict taking place. It might be the case, that the couple no longer want to be together as they do not love each other anymore. In this circumstance, there is no blame to be placed, showing that the new law will be advantageous.

If you need legal help or advice, get in touch on our freephone 0800 8 60 62 65.

Natalie Stephenson Quayle

Natalie Stephenson Quayle – Paralegal



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