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When will divorce law change?

In recent years, divorce law in England and Wales has been the subject of much scrutiny and criticism. In June 2019, the government introduced legislation to reform divorce law and end the divorce ‘blame game’.

But when is this new divorce law likely to come into force? And how could this divorce law affect your divorce? We take a closer look…


Current divorce law: the five ‘facts’

Under current divorce law, you must prove that your marriage has irretrievably broken down by providing one (or more) of five reasons or ‘facts’ (also known as grounds for divorce).

The five ‘facts’ under current divorce law are:

• Unreasonable behaviour (this is the most frequently cited reason for divorce)
• Adultery
• Desertion
• 2 years’ separation (with consent from the other spouse)
• 5 years’ separation (no consent necessary)

Many critics of current system of divorce law in England and Wales believe that the main problem lies in the fact that there is no option for a ‘no-fault’ divorce, unless you are willing to wait at least 2 years. Indeed, this 2-year wait is often not viable, as many people won’t be able to afford to pay for two separate households before dealing with their financial settlement upon divorce.

The requirement under current divorce law for blame, many argue, unnecessarily increases hostility and conflict between divorcing couples, which can be especially damaging when children are involved.

divorce law


Divorce Law Reform

The Divorce, Separation and Dissolution Bill has already passed through two readings in the House of Commons and was introduced to the House of Lords at the start of January this year (2020).

This new divorce law will introduce ‘no-fault’ divorce in England and Wales, resulting in substantial changes to the divorce process. Under current divorce law, divorcing couples can spend a great deal of precious time and energy fighting over blame. In the future, when this new divorce law comes into force, the blame game, legally at least, should no longer be necessary.

New divorce law will mean that instead of having to attribute blame, a couple who want a divorce will simply be able to cite ‘irretrievable breakdown’ as the reason for their divorce.

No evidence about ‘bad’ behaviour will be necessary. In fact, it will be possible to submit a statement jointly, rather than just one person petitioning for divorce (it will also be possible for one party to do so, too).

What’s more, the new divorce law will stop one spouse contesting a divorce if the other wants one. Something which the government admits has, in some cases, “allowed domestic abusers to exercise further coercive control over their victim”.


How could the new divorce law affect your divorce?

After the new divorce law comes into force, there will be no need to attribute blame for the breakdown of your marriage.

This should hopefully help to reduce conflict, or at least not add to it, during the divorce process.

With regards to timescales for the new divorce law, it’s difficult to say. For many people, it will be a matter of the sooner, the better.


Other articles that may be of interest to you?

How long does a divorce take?

What is the divorce process?

When is decree absolute granted in a divorce?

Decree Nisi – What does this mean in a divorce?

What are the first steps to divorce?

Is a cheap divorce really possible?


How can our expert divorce solicitors help you with a divorce

Our expert family law solicitors can help you with a range of legal issues relating to divorce, including:


Contact our expert divorce solicitors for advice on a divorce

For more information call our divorce solicitors on 0845 862 5001 or email

Our expert family law solicitors offer a nationwide service. We have client meeting office facilities available, in order to have face-to-face client meetings / conferences as and when required in:

Leeds Office: St Andrew House, The Headrow, Leeds, LS1 5JW

Wakefield Office: Market Walk, Wakefield, WF1 1QR

Halifax Office: Old Lane, Halifax, HX3 5WP

Huddersfield Office: Northumberland Street Huddersfield, HD1 1RL

Coventry Office: Warwick Road, Coventry, CV1 2DY

Canary Wharf Office: 25 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London, E14 5LB

Please contact us for more details.

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21st February 2020

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