No fault divorces on the horizon


We wrote back in September last year that the government were considering introducing the so called ‘no fault divorce.’ This would allow couples to end a marriage without being forced to prove that their partner has done something which has caused the breakdown of the relationship.

The government’s consultation on this subject closed in December and attracted many responses.

Now, following analysis of the feedback, the Ministry of Justice have confirmed that they will look to formally re-write the law to bring an end to the current system of divorce.

As things stand, couples can only apply for a divorce when the have been married for one year and the person filing for divorce must show that the marriage has irretrievably broken down by establishing one of the following:

  • Adultery
  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Desertion
  • The parties have lived apart for more than two years (and both agree to the divorce)
  • The parties have lived apart for more than 5 years (even if one party does not agree to the divorce)

It is easy to understand why this can often lead to further anxiety at a time of emotional upheaval for separating couples, their children and/or wider family.

Under the proposed new rules, couples will still have to wait one year from marrying before they can apply for a divorce. They will then be required to provide a statement that the marriage has irretrievably broken down rather than satisfying any of the grounds above.

They will also have to wait for a minimum period of six months from filing the initial petition before they can apply to finalise the divorce.

The new rules will also remove the ability for a party to contest or fight the divorce.

There is no date at the moment as to when the new rules will come into effect, with the Ministry stating this will be as soon as parliamentary time allows.

If you do need advice regarding any family law issue, please do feel free to contact me.



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Julian Taylor
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