How does the new no fault divorce law work?

The beginning of April 2022 saw one of the most significant changes in family law in modern times with the arrival of the ‘no fault divorce’.

The arrival of no fault divorce has sparked an increase in divorce applications says Yorkshire solicitor
The arrival of no fault divorce has sparked an increase in divorce applications says Yorkshire solicitor

Designed to ease the divorce process for couples who are separating on an amicable basis, it has been a welcome change by many solicitors who have campaigned for a change to divorce law for years.

Just over one month since ‘no fault divorce’ was introduced, it is clear that this has triggered an increase in divorce applications, with couples looking to take advantage of an opportunity to avoid the blame game.

According to the HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS), 3,000 divorce applications were made within the first week of no fault divorce laws coming into effect, equating to 600 applications a day, which is a significant increase on the average of just over 2,000 weekly applications seen in 2021.

How does a no fault divorce work?

The no fault divorce means there is no need for one partner to blame the other when applying for a divorce. In many cases, couples separate in amicable circumstances when a relationship meets a natural end, and therefore there is no specific reason for the separation, or any action or pattern of behaviour to point to. All that is required for a ‘no fault divorce’ is for both parties to confirm in a statement that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.

Separating couples apply for a ‘divorce order’ and there is then a ‘period of reflection’ set at a minimum of 20 weeks. This is designed as a ‘cooling off period’ during which both parties can consider their position and any possible reconciliation. At the end of this period both parties must confirm they still wish to separate. Only at this stage can a ‘conditional order’ be issued, which is the new equivalent of a ‘decree nisi’.

What are the benefits of a no fault divorce?

- Reduce friction by removing the need to apportion blame

- Maintain cordial relations so that focus can be applied to childcare arrangements and division of assets

- Reduce stress and longer-term psychological effects on children involved in the marriage

- Makes the divorce process quicker, more straightforward and cheaper, as no complex court proceedings are required

Yorkshire Law Firm, Ison Harrison, fully supports the new divorce laws and has already seen first-hand an increase on the number of divorce-related enquiries made across their 16-strong branch network in the region. Director and Head of Family Law, Sarah Laughey said: “Starting the divorce process off with amicable intentions should help spouses to focus on such things as the children’s arrangements and the division of their finances.“We are not surprised that there has been a surge in divorce applications following the introduction of the no fault divorce, and it paves the way for more couples to separate amicably and avoid the historical divorce blame game.”

For confidential help and advice with no-fault divorce, call 03332 228 999 or email [email protected]. Visit the Ison Harrison website for more information