‘No-fault divorce’ on the horizon with new legislation

New legislation has been announced by the government to overhaul divorce law and remove the need for divorcing couples in England and Wales to assign blame.

This move towards ‘no-fault divorce’ will reduce family conflict and so is warmly welcomed by the Miles & Partners family and matrimonial team who campaigned alongside Resolution for ‘a better way’ during Good Divorce Week in November 2018 at the Houses of Commons.

Michelle Uppal

Michelle Uppal, family solicitor and trained mediator said: ‘We are extremely happy to hear that the government has finally listened to 71% of the population who agree that divorce reform is urgently needed and that change is on the way. Our family lawyers are all committed members of Resolution and firmly believe in resolving family law matters using a constructive and collaborative approach.’

The current divorce laws in England and Wales, which are 50 years old, demand proof that a marriage has broken down irretrievably. It forces a spouse to provide sufficient evidence of ‘unreasonable behaviour’ or undertake years of separation, even in cases where a couple has made a mutual decision to part ways.

‘This only exacerbates conflict between separating couples and can cause unnecessary stress and pain. It can be extremely damaging when children are involved, having a particular impact on the children’s emotional and mental wellbeing by undermining the relationship between their parents. Divorce in itself is emotionally traumatic for most people and to add fault and blame sets the scene for a negative process.’ adds Michelle.

Proposals for changes to the law include:

  • maintaining the irretrievable breakdown of a marriage as the sole ground for divorce;
  • replacing the requirement to provide proof of irretrievable breakdown with a requirement to provide a statement;
  • retaining the two-stage legal process currently referred to as decree nisi and decree absolute;
  • creating the option of a joint application for divorce, alongside the existing option where only one party initiates the process;
  • removing the ability to contest a divorce; and
  • introducing a minimum timeframe of 6 months, from petition stage to the completion of the divorce (20 weeks from petition stage to decree nisi; 6 weeks from decree nisi to decree absolute).

‘We are glad to see that these reforms keep the things that work well in existing divorce law and remove the more troublesome conditions which stand in the way of resolving difficulties amicably,’ says Michelle.

The new legislation is expected to be introduced within the next few months. To read the official government press release, please click here.

At Miles & Partners our solicitors can offer expert advice and are trained to help resolve family law matters amicably. We can help you with:

For more information about separation or divorce, please contact Michelle Uppal in the family team on 020 7426 0400 or email mu@milesandpartners.com.

This article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please note that the law may have changed since the date this article was published. You should always take legal advice relating to your individual circumstances.