30 January 2020

What is No Fault Divorce?

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As the law stands today, an individual wanting to obtain a divorce will have to prove the sole ground of divorce i.e. the marriage has broken down irretrievably. In order to do this, one of the following five facts of divorce will need to be given and justified:

i. Adultery;

ii. Unreasonable behaviour;

iii. Desertion (for a period of at least 2 years);

iv. Separation for at least 2 years; and

v. Separation for at least 5 years.

This often results in one partner having to show the “wrongdoing” of the other or play the “blame game.” Naturally, this means that divorce proceedings becoming hostile or emotionally difficult for many. Such an approach is not necessarily applicable to all modern-day couples. Divorces rates are known to have risen over the years and one of the reasons for this incompatibility.

The government’s Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill was introduced in June 2019 and after a recent standstill, was welcomed by the Parliament on 07 January 2020 as a focal point of discussion.

For the purposes of a no-fault divorce, the key changes this Bill proposes to bring about are to:

  1. replace the requirement to prove one of the five facts of divorce with a requirement to provide a statement of irretrievable breakdown. This statement can be joint, and no further evidence is required;
  2. remove the possibility of contesting the divorce. The statement of irretrievable breakdown will be accepted as evidence of the breakdown of the marriage by the courts;
  3. introduce a minimum timeframe of 6 months from petition stage to the divorce being made final (a minimum 20-week period from petition stage to decree nisi is suggested, and the minimum 6-week period from decree nisi to decree absolute is retained);
  4. introduce the option of a joint application for divorce being made (the current ability of a spouse to initiate divorce proceedings independently will be retained); and
  5. Simplify terminology. For example, “decree nisi”, “decree absolute” and “petitioner” will be replaced with “conditional order”, “final order” and “applicant.”

The bar on filing a divorce petition in the first year of marriage is retained. This along with the minimum timeframes proposed, allow couples time for thoughtful reflection on their decision to file for divorce.

Many of the proposed changes will make the divorce procedure quicker and easier to follow for those seeking a no-fault divorce. Importantly, the Bill introduces an amicable method of divorce which avoids (or at least minimises) conflict between couples and the negative effect it can have on the welfare of children involved.

If you need help obtaining a divorce or understanding any of the other options available to you, we have experts who are ready to help.


The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Connaught Law and authors accept no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Connaught Law. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Connaught Law.

About the Author

Mahnoor has extensive experience in dealing with various types of in-country and out-of-country immigration matters. This includes advising and assisting clients on a vast spectrum of immigration applications, ranging from Entry Clearance to British citizenship.

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