No fault divorce coming to the UK is good news for divorcing couples

Getting a divorce in the UK is set to become a whole lot simpler thanks to the imminent introduction of no fault divorce. But why will no fault divorce be so beneficial for divorcing couples?

It’s a simple truth that getting divorced in the UK can be a messy affair. Amazingly, divorce laws have not been updated since 1973, which means couples are forced to jump through complicated hoops which drum up unnecessary confusion and conflict if they want to finalise their separation. Far from ideal!

Thankfully, that’s all set to change in 2022. From April, the new law on no fault divorce will be introduced, which should be incredibly beneficial to couples who have instructed a family law solicitor and are looking for a straightforward separation.

But why is no fault divorce such good news, and what exactly does it mean? We’ll be providing answers to those pressing questions, and much more, in the following post…

What is no fault divorce and why is it being introduced?

No fault divorce is being introduced as a part of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill, which was first proposed in 2020. The government passed the new law to end the ‘blame game’ that is often associated with divorce in the UK.

Under current laws, couples who want to get a divorce are forced to prove the irretrievable breakdown of their relationship. To do so, they must rely on one or more ‘facts’. These facts are:

  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Adultery (which is not available for civil partnership dissolution)
  • Desertion for at least 2 years
  • Separation for at least 2 years with the consent of both parties
  • Separation for at least 5 years even if one party disagrees

These facts essentially place blame on one party for the divorce, even if it doesn’t accurately reflect the nature of the relationship. Not exactly fair, right?

As can be expected, the law has come under heavy criticism, especially in recent years, for being outdated and combative. We all know that, sometimes, relationships simply don’t work out – it isn’t always because one partner has cheated or deserted the other.

Several concerning cases over the years have perfectly illustrated why current divorce laws are not fit for purpose. Take the case of Tini Owens, who was forced to remain married against her will.

How will no fault divorce work?

No fault divorce aims to completely rework the approach to divorce. It will:

  • Retain the sole ground of the irretrievable breakdown of the relationship
  • Remove the requirement of relying on a ‘fact’ to prove irretrievable breakdown
  • Introduce joint applications where both partners agree to the divorce
  • Remove the ability to contest a divorce
  • Update the language surrounding divorce
  • Introduce new waiting periods

Why is no fault divorce such good news for separating couples?

So, why is no fault divorce such good news for divorcing couples? These are just some of the potential reasons:

Reduce the time it takes to get divorced

Right now, getting a divorce in the UK can be a very long and drawn-out process – and that’s even in situations where both parties are on the same page. There are various steps to take, including providing evidence to support whichever fact is relied on, which means it can take a number of months to finally reach a conclusion. If one partner doesn’t agree with the divorce, then things can take even longer.

No fault divorce, simply put, will speed the process up. Couples can submit an application for a divorce and get the ball rolling quickly and with minimal fuss. Because a divorce can no longer be contested, this also removes one potential barrier that can bring proceedings to a grinding halt.

Reduce the potential for disputes

Some couples naturally break up on bad terms – no fault divorce won’t be able to stop that from happening. However, what it can do is prevent couples who are on good terms from getting sucked into the toxic blame game and resorting to bitter disputes.

Because couples can submit a joint application and take equal responsibility for the irretrievable breakdown of the relationship, no one is taking the blame or stirring up any conflict where it’s not needed.

Avoids people being stuck in marriages

Many people find it difficult to get out of marriages they are uncomfortable in, especially as it will mean they might have to go to court to fight their corner.

With no fault divorce, it will no longer be possible to contest a divorce petition, which means that people can leave a marriage they do not want to remain in, with no questions asked.

Is there anything couples should be wary of when it comes to no fault divorce?

While no fault divorce is largely going to be a very positive step forward for divorcing couples in the UK, there are still one or two factors that should be considered.

No fault divorce, while relatively simple, will still require the support of a legal professional. This will cost money – money that some people may not necessarily have access to.

It could also be potentially argued that, from a moral or religious standpoint, no fault divorce is a little too accessible. This may devalue the marriage vows that couples take, as they can get divorced very quickly and easily. Of course, this is very subjective, so it’s down to how every couple views their relationship.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema via Unsplash.