Russell & Russell – No-Fault Divorce

12/04/2022

As members of Resolution, the Family Law solicitors at Russell & Russell are happy to support Resolution in their goals to help couples reach amicable terms when ending their marriage after finalising their divorce. The term 'good divorce' has been enforced by Resolution, a community of family justice professionals who work with families and individuals, helping them constructively resolve issues. The term 'good divorce' is sometimes considered an oxymoron; divorce has developed quite a stigma and is commonly regarded as a negative ending to a marriage. However, Resolution aims to raise awareness surrounding the importance of constructive negotiation and agreement.

What does no-fault mean in divorce proceedings?

Throughout the process of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill being discussed in Parliament, Resolution set up a campaign pushing for no-fault divorce. Their members partook in a survey they carried out and found that 90% of their members agreed that no-fault divorce should be available to separating couples. In May 2018, the Resolution campaigners went to Parliament, calling for a change in the law, taking place at the same time the Supreme Court heard the landmark Owens v Owens case, and this paved the way for reform. This campaign proved to be successful as it introduced the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act, which was brought into UK legislation on the 6th of April 2022. It allows couples to divorce without the need to demonstrate grounds for divorce.

Divorce lawyers and other legal professionals believe that the divorce law prior to no-fault divorce coming into action was outdated, and the new law will: 

  • Establish the possibility of a couple jointly filing for a divorce instead of the proceedings solely being established by one partner raising the case.
  • Remove the outdated language from the process, for example, "decree nisi" or "decree absolute", to terminology like "conditional order" or "final order".
  • Remove the need of proving the standards that deem divorce as appropriate, such as adultery, unreasonable behaviour, separation of two years or desertion of two years.

How will no-fault divorce work?

The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill, which introduces no-fault divorce, aims to:

  • Remove the ability to contest a divorce, dissolution, or separation.
  • Update the divorce language, for example:
    1. 'Decree Nisi' will become a 'Conditional Order'
    2. 'Decree Absolute' will become a 'Final Order'
    3. 'Petitioner' (the person submitting the application) becomes the 'applicant'.
  • Introduce joint applications where both parties of the couple agree that the relationship has broken down. These applicants can submit an individual application if their partner does not feel the same way. 
  • Remove the requirement to multiple facts backed up by the standards that deem divorce appropriate to prove the irretrievable breakdown.
  • Remove the ability to contest a divorce, dissolution, or separation
  • Establish a new minimum period of 20 weeks from the introduction of the proceedings until a 'Conditional Order' can be made.
  • Keep the 6-week period from when a conditional order has been made to when the final order can be made. 

When is no-fault divorce coming into effect in the UK?

No-fault divorce is now in effect in England and Wales as from the 6th of April 2022. Couples can now get a divorce without one person needing to blame the other. The no-fault divorce changes will also apply to civil partnership dissolution.  

Russell & Russell Solicitors No-Fault Divorce

Russell & Russell's family department offers advice and representation on all aspects of family law, including divorce and finances, separation, cohabitation and prenuptial agreements, social services involvement, domestic abuse, change of name, and children law issues such as child contact and child relocation. 

All Russell & Russell's family solicitors are specialists in their field and adhere to the Resolution code of conduct. They can guide you through the complexities of family law, helping you make the right decisions to ensure you and your family's well-being. 

If you have an emergency situation, you can contact us out of office hours on our 24-hour helpline. Please get in touch with our divorce and separation team on 0800 103 2600 or make an online enquiry, and someone will get back in touch.

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