Six things you need to know about no fault divorce changes

On April 6, 2022, the way we divorce changed. Here are the six things you need to know about the no-fault divorce law.

You no longer need to formally blame your spouse

Until 2022, unless you and your spouse had been formally separated for two years, you’d have to cite adultery, unreasonable behaviour, or desertion for a divorce to be granted. This could cause animosity between partners and didn’t exactly encourage a healthy relationship as co-parents or friends. Couples who were trying to keep things as civil as possible often struggled when one person had to be labelled as the villain. It’s true that people can make mistakes in relationships, but it’s often the case that both partners have contributed to the breakdown of the relationship or want different things from life. Instead of playing the blame game, now all that’s needed is a statement saying the marriage has broken down irretrievably.

It may take longer to get divorced

There is now a minimum time from petition stage to final divorce:

  • 20 weeks from petition stage to decree nisi (which is a fancy way of saying that the court agrees they see no reason why you cannot divorce).
  • six weeks from decree nisi to decree absolute, otherwise known as the legal document that officially ends your marriage.

But even though it may take longer, we think this is a good thing. Now couples have more time to reflect, give and access support such as counselling or mediation.

You can now jointly apply for a divorce

Before 2022, one partner would file for divorce. But now, couples can make a joint application to end their marriage. This can make things feel more equal and more accurately reflect a mutual decision.

It’s no longer possible to contest a divorce

No one should be forced to remain in a marriage or a distressed relationship. That’s why we support the move to end the contesting of a divorce. Because the last place relationship issues should be worked through is in a courtroom.

You can get divorced online

You can apply for a divorce online. HM Courts and Tribunals Service launched a new online service to support the changes to the law, making it easier for many people to end a marriage that’s no longer working.

Support is here

Fault-based divorce sent out the wrong message to many couples, encouraging tension and conflict that’s damaging for everyone involved (especially kids).  It’s great we’re saying goodbye to this outdated system, but separation and divorce aren’t just legal issues – they affects so many other areas of our lives, too.

That’s why it takes effort and understanding from both partners to have a ‘good’ divorce. This is where counselling can really help. For self-guided help with separation and divorce, check out our Separation Planner.

How we can help

If you’re looking for support with your relationships, we can help. We offer a range of ways to speak with a trained relationship expert including ongoing counselling, 30 minute web and phone chats, and one session therapy.

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