No fault divorce law is on the way

Next month marks the start of one of the biggest reforms of divorce law in 50 years as "no fault" divorce will take effect in England and Wales. 

Ditching the blame game

In a previous post Downs Solicitors was pleased to hear that the no-fault divorce law had passed through - and we have now been given a date. The new law, known as the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 will come into force from 6th April 2022 and it will enable both married couples and civil partners the ability to divorce without blame.

Prior to this, divorce had to meet one of seven criteria that reflected adultery, abandonment or unreasonable behaviour - but it has been felt for a long time that couples who felt their split was due to "no fault" were unable to agree in the eyes of the law their reasons for separating.

End of unnecessary conflict

One of the most famous cases was the one of Owens V Owens, where the spouses were forced into reasoning that their marriage fitted into one of those seven criteria, when actually it was simply due to the marriage irretrievably breaking down. Some say the Owens' case was the first in the media spotlight for taking no-fault divorce seriously, as it was ruled by the Judge as "flimsy at best" and ended up being thrown out of court.

However, couples will now be free to separate without the need to make allegations about each other's conduct. Instead, irretrievable breakdown will remain the sole reason, and the need to give another reason will be removed. Couples can either make a joint application or one of the spouses can apply. There will then be a minimum of 20 weeks between issuing and reaching the first stage of the divorce to allow for reflection and / or the possibility of reconciliation.

Not only could this reduce lengthy conflict and unnecessary delays, and costs, any children involved will likely cope better when their parents are not in conflict and can see a more amicable agreement reached.

Don't wait! Plan now

The date of 6th April is also significant as it ties in with a new tax year. Your tax status may change depending on whether you are married, separated or widowed, so if you are waiting for the new no-fault divorce law, now's the time to seek any relevant tax advice you may need now.

Here at Downs Solicitors we have long supported the decisions surrounding the introduction of no-fault divorce law and we are pleased to see it finally come into effect.

We're here to listen to you and can act in an empathetic and understanding manner so that we can get the best outcome for you and your family. Contact us if you would like more information.


Terina Farnan

Terina Farnan

Senior Associate Solicitor

Tel: +44 (0) 1932 588581

Office: Cobham

Email: t.farnan@downslaw.co.uk