What you need to know about no-fault divorce

A new change to divorce law has made getting divorced a more straightforward process for everyone involved. 

The landmark reform introduced no-fault divorce and is looking to reduce the conflict between separating couples. As of April 6th 2022 the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 has been active. The new legislation:

  • Replaces the “five grounds” for divorce (adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, living apart for at least two years, and living apart for at least five years). Now couples can get divorced without assigning fault
  • Removes the possibility of contesting the divorce
  • Introduces an option for joint application
  • Makes sure “legal language” is in plain English and easier to understand

What Is A No-Fault Divorce? 

A no-fault, or no-blame divorce is a much more straightforward approach to separation. Couples will be able to file for divorce or civil partnership dissolution without needing to place blame on their former partner to prove a breakdown of the marriage.   

This can make for a much easier separation that reduces the stress put on the couple or any children involved. 


What Does No-Fault Divorce Mean For Couples?

There are several changes that the no-fault divorce laws have introduced that affect separating couples. As previously mentioned blame will not have to be proved to get a divorce and providing both parties agree, a joint application can be made for divorce or dissolution leading to a much more amicable separation.

Couples will also save the stress of worrying about their partner contesting the divorce or dissolution and being forced to go to court. Saving both parties time, money and stress. 

New time scales introduced means most couples will have to wait up to 6 months for their divorce or dissolution to finalise. This is intended to provide a period of reflection for both parties to decide if they do want to separate.

During this time couples will also need to make arrangements on how to divide their money and, If they have a child or children, they will also need to agree on maintenance payments, child residency and a parenting plan.


How Do I Apply For A No-Fault Divorce?

An application for a no-fault divorce can be made online. You will need to provide the names and addresses of both partners and either the original or a certified copy of the marriage certificate. 

If you are making a sole application the court will send a copy of the divorce application to your spouse, who is then required to confirm they have received the application via an “acknowledgement of service” form within 14 days. 

There are two waiting periods that mean the divorce can take a minimum of 26 weeks. There is a 20-week waiting period when the conditional order (previously called the decree nisi) is to be issued. And a further 6-week waiting period for the final order (previously called the decree absolute). 

A no-fault divorce cannot be contested unless there are exceptional circumstances the court feels the need to investigate further. 

For more information on the new divorce process, read No-fault divorce and do not hesitate to Ask a lawyer if you have any questions.


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