No-fault divorce could begin from 2021

The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill concluded its passage through the House of Commons on 17th June, allowing couples seeking a no-fault divorce to file their claims - but they may have to wait until the autumn of 2021 to do so.

Campaigners have long been urging the Government to change the existing law surrounding divorce. Under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 in England and Wales, any couples wishing to separate must fulfil one of five criteria:

  • Adultery
  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Desertion
  • You have lived apart for more than two years and both agree to the divorce
  • You have lived apart for at least five years, even if your husband or wife disagrees

There have been several documented cases, including the Owens V Owens case where relationships have irretrievably broken down, but couples still wish to apply for a separation. “No fault divorce” laws have been in the making for quite some time, but we have been anxiously awaiting the detail - as well as when the law will come into force.

However, whilst the reforms will be welcome news, we are still only approaching the finish line and not yet past the post. Before the Bill receives Royal Assent and therefore becomes law, it will return to the House of Lords for any final considerations and amendments.

That said, Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland said the new law is working towards an indicative timetable of implementation in autumn 2021.

We will be keeping a close eye on the developments with no-fault divorce as it develops. In the meantime, if you would like to receive any further information relating to your own divorce, or you would like some legal advice or assistance, contact Downs Solicitors to see how we can help.

Terina Farnan

Terina Farnan


Tel: +44 (0) 1932 588581

Office: Cobham Office