020 3372 5125 Email us today
Enquire today

What is No-Fault Divorce?

There is a buzz going around that no-fault divorce is coming to town. But what is it and why is it important?

For years the divorce laws in the UK have given rise to number of complications for those wishing to divorce. And with introduction of no fault divorce, things are set to look brighter.

Divorce is a complicated matter. In essence, it is an untangling of two or more lives that have been woven together for years. It is a messy and difficult process under  best of circumstances. However, one element in the UK divorce laws made this even more complicated: requirement that there was a guilty party for the termination of marriage. Otherwise, the spouses would have to wait for 2 years after separation, if both agreed to have a divorce, or 5 years if one of the parties refused to agree to it for whatever reason.

The hardship and heartache that hid behind these archaic laws came to full view after the now ill-famed case of Owens v Owens, where the wife relied on unreasonable behaviour of her husband, asking for a divorce. The husband contested these allegations and the court accepted his position, thereby denying the divorce. On subsequent appeals to Court of Appeal and later to the Supreme Court, the decision was maintained and Mrs Owens had no other choice but to remain locked in an unwanted marriage for another 5 years.

Finally, after many years of campaigning, the UK has adopted new legislation that paves way for No Fault Divorce. Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 was adopted this year and is expected to come into force in Autumn 2021. Does this mean it will be easier to get a divorce in the UK from next year? Yes and no. The answer depends on where the complications with the divorce lay. It will be easier to terminate the marriage, however all the accompanying issues, related to finances and childcare will still remain. However, it has to be said that the adoption of no fault divorce has the potential of making the divorce process less acrimonious, thereby assisting with the aspects of financial settlement and child arrangements. We will expend on this a bit further in the next part of this blog.

Current State of Divorce Law in the UK

We have mentioned above that currently, to get a divorce in the UK there has to be a guilty party or a lengthy separation. There are only five grounds for divorce and until such time when the No Fault Divorce Bill (Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020) comes into force, these are the only ones you can rely on when you are looking at terminating your marriage. The five grounds are:

  1. Adultery;
  2. Unreasonable behaviour;
  3. Desertion;
  4. Separation of 2 years;
  5. Separation of 5 years.

The distinction between the last two is that in the case of 2 year separation both parties must agree for the marriage to be terminated, while for the 5 years separation such agreement is not necessary and either party may apply to terminate it.

Adultery is usually difficult to prove and desertion is rare. Therefore, the most commonly used ground for a divorce s ‘Unreasonable Behaviour’. There is no clear set of behaviour that can be seen as unreasonable, for each person it can be a different pattern. However, whatever the claimed reason is, it should convince the judges that the behaviour is such that the petitioner (ie the person asking for the divorce) cannot be reasonably expected to remain in marriage. If the party who is ‘accused’ of unreasonable behaviour does not contest the petition, then the divorce is likely to go ahead. Issues arise when these allegations are contested. This can put an effective halt to divorce proceeding, as seen in Owens v Owens.

Apart from the potential of ending up in a contested divorce, the current state of affairs means that one of the spouses is being made responsible for failure of marriage. This often sets a tone to divorce proceedings that are unnecessarily acrimonious. The best divorce solicitors know how to approach such delicate issues. Our divorce lawyers always advise the clients to refrain from initiating any proceedings and even correspondence prior to getting proper advice. Our team of experienced divorce solicitors is well versed in navigating sensitive issues and heightened egos. To ensure that allegations put in a divorce petition will not sour any future dealings with the other party, when it comes to financial settlement and child arrangements, we deploy high levels of diplomacy and professionalism, to ensure the other party is aware of the benefits of collaborative approach and thus reach an acceptable compromise. Unfortunately, there are times where this cannot be achieved and hostility leads to unnecessary lengthening and complicating the divorce process.

When the divorce law changes, it will be somewhat easier to navigate such sensitive issues. When no fault divorce begins in the UK there will no longer be necessary to negotiate ‘acceptance of guilt’ by one of the partners.

How does No-Fault Divorce Work?

The divorce reforms were indeed long expected and hard fought for by family law practitioner. And our divorce solicitors welcome these new changes, even though some of the new divorce law requirements can also be seen as quite cumbersome.

Under the new bill, divorce applications can be put forward by either party or by both parties jointly. In this respect there is no significant change.

There will no longer be any need to provide evidence of the alleged behaviour or separation. Instead, the petitioner will be required to file a sworn statement that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. Therefore, the correct wording and form of the statement will need to be observed. The court will take this as evidence of marriage having broken down and will make a divorce order.

In effect, the above mentioned procedure means that there will be no possibility to contest the divorce. Therefore, if one party wants to get a divorce, this will not be possible under the new divorce law, without further complications. This approach is more in tune with the modern realities. In the past, contested divorces, as rare as they were, in most cases were a result of mutual frustration, want of revenge and exertion of control over the other party. They were hardly means of saving the marriage and it is a welcomed change that the legislative has acknowledged these realities.

Under the new rules, the two stage divorce process remains unchanged. The courts will initially need to make a conditional order. There is a mandatory waiting period of 20 weeks from the date the application was submitted, until the conditional order (Decree Nisi) can be made. After this order, following another 6 weeks, the final divorce order (Decree absolute) can be made. This means the entire divorce process will now take 26 weeks (6 months). Many divorce lawyers and practitioners find this to be an unnecessary delay.

How We Can Help with No-Fault Divorces

At RVS Solicitors we have a dedicated team of divorce lawyers, who specialise in all aspects of divorce and family law. Our family legal team is headed by Rakhi Singal, who has extensive experience in complex divorce cases. We are well placed in assisting you with your no fault divorce. If you would like to know more about no fault divorce and whether it is suitable for you, whether you should start proceedings under the current laws or wait for the new laws to come into force, reach out to us for a no fault divorce consultation. We will assess your situation in detail and offer you the best solution tailored to your circumstances. Our lawyers will guide you through all the stages of your divorce, from preparation, to application and getting the final order.

To speak to one of our expert family lawyers, please contact us or call on 020 3372 5125.

Please call us on 020 3372 5125 or get an online consultation




    Contact our experts in Family Law
    Director & Head of Family Law
    For legal advice
    call us today
    020 3372 5125
    Or complete our online enquiry form to make an appointment




      What Our Clients
      Say About Us
      Testimonials
      Dealing with Rakhi was more like having In house counsel than hiring a law firm
      So Rakhi Singal of RVS has just handled my divorce, it was a very complex case and I came to Rakhi at the very last minute on a friend’s recommendation. My case was a mess and I stood to lose everything.

      Dealing with Rakhi was more like having In-House counsel than hiring a law firm, she does not approach her clients as a cash machine like many law firms do, she works with you to manage and minimise your costs and de-escalate conflict rather than throw wood on the fire.

      She took a huge personal interest in my case, she was always available on the phone, very quick to respond to emails and is very honest and trustworthy.

      My ex had huge spending power and used a team of high profile solicitors against me, Rakhi literally saved me from complete ruin and helped me get a very fair deal with me spending 6 times less than my ex on legal fees.

      Thank you, my new family and I will be forever grateful!!!!
      What Our Clients
      Say About Us
      Testimonials
      Rakhi’s passion for her profession supersedes the norm
      On dealing with a very stressful and emotional situation involving my young child. I was personally directed to Rakhi Singal. From the very outset of my situation, Rakhi identified the immediate difficulties I faced and offered me a sympathetic and rational approach to my situation, ensuring that she had a full understanding of my issues and concerns. Rakhi’s approach to my case was monumental and customary to my needs and that of my child, which was a fundamental point for me.

      The communication and support I received in and outside of court was nothing short of extraordinary. Rakhi’s passion for her profession supersedes the norm and is clearly demonstrated through her results.
      What Our Clients
      Say About Us
      Testimonials
      Really impressed with Rakhi’s dedication to our case
      Could not be more pleased with the results!

      I approached RVS solicitors as they were highly recommended and now I completely understand why. Soon as I contacted Rakhi I knew I wanted to use her, she was so professional and easy to get along with. I was faced with clients who were refusing the pay invoices, Rakhi immediately reassured me that she was able to help me and recoup these costs. She dealt with the whole process very professionally.

      Really impressed with Rakhi’s dedication to our case and her knowledge and experience on dealing with the case. She communicated with us throughout the process, providing me with regular updates. Thank you so much, I cannot vouch for her work enough and RAW Invites are happy for you to continue to act for all their matters in the future.
      What Our Clients
      Say About Us
      Testimonials
      Very detailed advice, friendly and approachable
      Excellent service for my wife's spousal visa from Lusine: very detailed advice, friendly and approachable. Also flexible in contact by email and provided an excellent cover letter.
      What Our Clients
      Say About Us
      Testimonials
      She is professional, intelligent, hard worker and cheerful!
      I highly recommend Dr. Lusine Navasardyan, as she is professional, intelligent, hard worker and cheerful, she helped us from the beginning of our case until the very end, when she prepared a strong bundle with over 385 pages, which helped us get a successful victory in our Asylum case . I strongly recommend her as I really appreciate all the professional work that she has done . Many thanks to her.
      What Our Clients
      Say About Us
      Testimonials
      She has been very professional and a reliable person
      Dr. Lusine has been working on my case. She has been very professional and a reliable person. She was always attending to my queries and she has always been very friendly throughout my case.
      What Our Clients
      Say About Us
      Testimonials
      She is very professional while creating a friendly and comforting relationship with her clients
      I am very happy with the level and quality of service I got from Dr. Lusine Navasardyan. She is very professional while creating a friendly and comforting relationship with her clients. The service from Lusine was professional,efficient and well organised. Lusine worked extremely hard at resolving my all issues while getting the best result.
      Latest News