You may well be familiar with the term “no fault divorce” from hearing it referred to in American shows or films. It is yet to exist in the UK but that is set to change.

Current Reasons

Currently, there are five reasons (known as “facts”) that are accepted as grounds for divorce:

  • Adultery
  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Desertion
  • Separation for at least two years if both parties agree
  • Separation for at least two years if there is consent from only one party

Case for No Fault

However, many family lawyers have spoken in favour of no fault divorce in the UK, particularly following the decision in Owens v Owens in 2018; Mrs Owens was unable to satisfy the current law that her spouse’s behaviour was sufficient to grant a divorce.

The Divorce, Separation and Dissolution Bill, providing for either spouse to apply for divorce on a no fault basis, passed through two readings in the House of Commons and was introduced to the House of Lords on 7 January 2020.

What does it mean?

When the bill becomes law (and it’s not there yet), spouses will no longer need to provide evidence of behaviour or adultery or a length of separation and all that will be required for a grant of divorce will be a statement that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.

It also means that it won’t be possible to defend or contest divorce proceedings and thereby removes some of the antagonism caused by the current “facts”. Courts will be able to make a conditional order 20 weeks after commencement of proceedings, once applicants have confirmed their desire to continue with the application.

There is no date yet for the bill’s implementation but it is expected in Autumn of this year. So, for now, you’ll need to proceed under the current fault-based system. We can provide expert guidance on the most suitable avenue for you and ensure that you achieve the best outcome possible.

Call us on 0121 511 2233 to speak to one of our experts.