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No-Fault Divorce: What you need to know about the proposed changes by Chrys Wall

Chrys Wall, our Family Lawyer, is a proud Member of Resolution and a Resolution Accredited Specialist Family Lawyer. In preparation for the recently announced “no-fault divorce” legislation, the following is a brief breakdown of the grounds of divorce as they currently stand, and what we know about the proposed changes.

No-fault Divorce - new legislation

This week, Justice secretary David Gauke announced planned legislation that will completely upend the way that divorce cases will be handled in England and Wales, with the aim being to make “no-fault divorce” easier to pursue. This new law will, according to Mr. Gauke, be introduced as soon as parliamentary time allows it.

This announcement follows the high-profile case of Owens, whereby the Wife was denied a divorce from her husband after a lengthy legal battle. It is likely that her case would have been granted if her husband had not opposed the divorce.

What are the current grounds for divorce?

The current grounds for divorce in the England and Wales have one fundamental basis: “irretrievable breakdown of a marriage”. To be granted a divorce, the spouse then has to prove this breakdown through one or more of the following five reasons:

  • Adultery
  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Desertion
  • Two years’ separation with the other spouse’s consent
  • Five years’ separation (with no consent needed from the other spouse)

Three of the five reasons are fault-based.  The other two – based on separation – require a period of time to have elapsed before divorce proceedings can be applied for.

No-fault Divorce - new legislation

How will “no-fault divorce” work?

From what we know thus far, the new legislation would not change the fundamental concept that a divorce will only be granted if a marriage has broken down irretrievably.  However, what is likely to change is:

  • Blame/fault will be removed.
  • The parties will only need to supply a statement of irretrievable breakdown.
  • There will be an abolishment of the other partner’s ability to contest the divorce.
  • A new option for couples to jointly petition will be made available.
  • A minimum time-frame of six months from the initial petition for divorce and the granting of a decree absolute (the document that finalizes proceedings and ends the marriage). The reasoning for this is to give the applicant time to reflect on their decision and reverse it if they desire.
No-fault Divorce - new legislation

Resolution welcome no-fault divorce changes

Resolution, who have been campaigning for reform to divorce laws for over 30 years, praised the announced changes, with their former Chair Nigel Shepherd stating:

“Resolution members will always try to help couples deal with the consequences of relationship breakdown with as little acrimony as possible, but the current divorce law makes this so much more difficult. With this new legislation, finally our divorce laws will be brought up to date – helping divorcing couples and, most importantly, any children they may have, avoid unnecessary conflict.”

Alongside Resolution, Thomson & Bancks welcomes this announcement as a big step forward in reducing blame and the resulting emotional turmoil in divorce proceedings.


Chrys Wall

Chrys is an experienced Solicitor, specialising in Family Law; relationship breakdowns, divorces, financial matters, Children and cases involving domestic violence. She is accredited by the organisation “Resolution”, certified to assist in Financial Provision and Children Law work. Details of the organisation Resolution can be found here.

Click here to learn more about Chrys L Wall




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Catch up with Chrys L Wall’s previous blog posts

Top Tips for Separating Parents, a short film by Resolution
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Chrys’s Home 2 Home Walk for Charity for the Cedar Trust

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