Guide To No-Fault Divorce Laws UK | Insights | Austin Kemp

No-Fault Divorce UK – Guide

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Married couples in the UK will soon have their divorce proceedings become less acrimonious due to the no-fault divorce laws in the UK. The no-fault divorce system aims to put an end to the blame game that most relationships suffer through.

Divorce is a difficult time for anyone, and the process can be even more complicated if one spouse is trying to blame the other. In England and Wales, couples are now able to divorce without relying on any one person to take the blame – this is known as ‘no-fault divorce’. But what exactly does that mean?

In this article, we’ll take a look at no fault divorce in the UK, explore its implications, and consider how it might affect you or your family. We’ll also provide some advice on how to make sure you get through the process with minimal conflict.

What Is No-Fault Divorce?

The no-fault divorce laws allow separating couples to get a divorce, legal separation, or civil partnership dissolution without attributing fault to either party. Due to this civil reform of the divorce system in the UK, the divorce process will become much quicker and less bitter.

Under the current law, you can only get a divorce by initiating the process of separation by alleged fault on your partner.

The new law was announced in February 2019, and it will be implemented from April 2022. This change is one of the biggest divorce law reforms in the last 50 years

No-fault divorce is a divorce in which neither party is held responsible for the breakdown of the marriage. This type of divorce is available in many jurisdictions, but not all. In some jurisdictions, fault must be proven in order to obtain a divorce.

In a no-fault divorce, neither party needs to prove that the other party did anything wrong. The grounds for a no-fault divorce are usually that the parties have irreconcilable differences or that they have been living apart for a certain period of time.

No-fault divorce can be faster and less expensive than a fault-based divorce because there is no need to prove wrongdoing. It can also be less emotionally charged than a fault-based divorce, since neither party needs to assign blame.

Request a Free Callback from Our Divorce Law Experts

If you wish to learn more about the no-fault divorce UK and how it can provide you with a quick divorce, civil partnership dissolution or separation, you can get in touch with our experts for legal advice. 

Our experienced divorce solicitors will walk you through the process of no-fault divorce UK by providing you with a clear insight into the proceedings. You can contact us on 0333 311 0925, email us or request a free call back from the experts according to your ease.

What Is The Current Divorce Law?

Currently, you can only file for a divorce by putting fault on your spouse. Having to put the fault on a partner to be able to get a divorce, legal separation or civil partnership dissolution can put a lot of strain on relationships and cause anger or bitterness that can affect long term relationships and family dynamics. There are multiple ways a partner can put the fault on their other half. 

What Are The Ways Of Establishing Fault For Divorce or Separation?


Adultery is one of the three reasons you can choose to file for a divorce. If you prove adultery in court, all you have to do is say that it is intolerable for you to live with your partner. 


Desertion is where a spouse abandons the other, and has fairly complicated proceedings. For example, you cannot start the divorce proceedings before two years of desertion.

Unreasonable behaviour

If you file a divorce by choosing this reason, you have to convince the court that the unreasonable behaviour makes it unacceptable for you to live with your partner. In this situation, the court requires serious examples for you to want a separation.

What If You Don’t Put Fault On Your Partner?

If you fail to allege one of the mentioned faults, you will only get a divorce when you have separated from your partner for two years after both spouses agreed on the divorce. If one of the spouses refuses or challenges your divorce application, you can get a divorce after five years. 

How Has The Divorce Law Changed in 2022?

The No-fault divorce UK reform will make the process of separation a lot more convenient for partners. According to this law, you do not have to blame your partner for filing a divorce. 

Either party can start the proceedings. Couples can also file the divorce with a joint application. This reform of the divorce law will make proceedings easier as you won’t have to blame your spouse. 

How Will a No-Fault Divorce Work? Key Facts to Know About

The new no-fault divorce UK law removes the requirement for you to prove an irretrievable breakdown by blaming the spouse for adultery, unreasonable behaviour, or desertion. 

This law uses the irretrievable breakdown as the sole ground for filing a divorce, as opposed to having to make allegations for a divorce. The new basis of the law remains the same, that you can only file a divorce when the relationship has irretrievably broken now.

The definition of an irretrievable relationship has changed in a way that both partners can initiate the proceedings through a joint application. This also simplifies the divorce process as you do not have to go for hearings where your partner objects to the divorce. In addition, this causes less stress to separate couples. 

Previously there were five proper ways of proving a relationship breakdown. These included the following. 

  • Adultery
  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Desertion
  • Agreement after two years’ separation
  • One party request after five years’ separation

The court only requires one spouse to provide a legal statement mentioning that the marriage is irretrievably broken. Moreover, the court considers this as conclusive evidence without asking for a joint statement.

Key Changes To Divorce Legal Terms

The UK parliament has also made some key changes to legal terms in the divorce process. 

  • The “petitioner” will now be an “applicant.”
  • “Decree Nisi” will become a “Conditional Order.”
  • “Decree Absolute” will become a “Final Order.”

These changes make the court language more accessible and simplified for people.

What Are the Benefits of No-Fault Divorce?

The main benefit of the no-fault divorce is that spouses do not have to make any allegations about their partner. This significantly reduces acrimony, simplifies the process of divorce and can take some strain off families.

No More Blame

It allows the couple to separate peacefully without a blame game. This way, they can manage their finances more constructively.

Since couples can file a joint application for divorce, they won’t have to be worried about their partner objecting to the decision of separation. This will save their time as they won’t have to go to many court hearings.

It saves time and does not stress out separating couples.

Positive Co-parenting

The no-fault divorce UK law will greatly benefit parents with children. Previously, couples had to make an allegation of their spouse which resulted in increased animosity — something that affects the children negatively.

However, the new law will allow ex-partners to form a positive relationship as co-parents. It will make child residence and contact easier as well. It will also have a positive impact on the parenting plan.

Quicker Proceedings

With the new law, most couples will only have to wait six months before finalising their divorce. The six months period is sufficient for them to reconsider their relationship. 

Common Questions About No-Fault Divorce

Since the government has reformed the divorce law after 50 years, it is natural to have concerns about the no-fault divorce system. Here are the answers to some common questions about no-fault divorce UK.

Will There Be a Waiting Period Before We Can File for Divorce?

The legal implementation is on hold due to the COVID pandemic. But it is assumed that the couples will have to wait for six months before they can file a divorce. 

This means that before filing a divorce, the couples have to live separately for half a year before the court considers their divorce application.

Can You File a No-Fault Divorce Online?

Yes, you can file the no-fault online with the consent of both parties. There isn’t an option to wait for two years before filing a divorce, and your partner cannot object to the divorce anymore. 

With a true no-fault divorce, either party can file a divorce, and no one can object to the decision.

Will There Be Any Changes to the Court Fees for a Divorce?

If you file a divorce at present, you will have to pay the court for the administrative cost. The fee is around £550. However, some people are entitled to a discount, while some are exempted from a court fee for divorce.

The new divorce law will simplify the process, so you may assume that it will cost less. As of yet though, nothing is proposed regarding reductions in the fee. 

Although it seems fair to adjust the administrative costs of the court, it is doubtful whether there will be a change in the cost. 

Will Spouses Be Able to Make Joint No-Fault Divorce Applications?

There isn’t a confirmation for joint applications, but several reports indicate that the new law will have a procedure for couples to file a joint divorce. 

Since the new law aims to reduce conflict between couples, it seems like a possibility to issue a joint divorce.

Should I Wait for the Law to Change before Filing for Divorce?

Since the new no-fault divorce law will be implemented from April 2022, it is wise for you to start the proceedings now if you have decided to seek separation from your partner.

Many divorces go without having significant problems if both the parties agree that the marriage is irretrievably broken.  Others find the strain of putting the blame on each other too much. In some cases, it may be too long for the couple to wait until the law is implemented. 

The actual process of the no-fault divorce UK law will be applicable in April 2022. If a couple has been separated for a long time, for example, two years, it is wise to file a divorce right away.

How Will You Benefit from the New Law if You Wait to File a Divorce?

You may prefer to wait for the no-fault divorce under some circumstances. For example, if you have serious reasons for divorce, such as adultery, but your partner objects to filing a divorce, then it is wise for you to wait for the no-fault divorce. This way, your partner cannot challenge your application, and this will reduce the stress as well as the cost of court proceedings. 

You could also wait for the no-fault divorce UK law to be implemented if you want to file a divorce, but you do not have acceptable reasons, like adultery, and you just grew apart. If your partner does not want a divorce, you will have to wait five years before you separate ways. In this case, you can wait for the no-fault divorce law to be implemented as it may quicken the divorce process.

Another situation where you should also wait for the law to be implemented is if you have been separated from your partner for five years, but you know that your partner will object to the divorce.

One of the few reasons for challenging a divorce application includes grave financial hardships. Under such circumstances, you should wait for the new law to be implemented for quicker and smoother proceedings. 

How Long Does A No-Fault Divorce Process Take?

The new divorce law will simplify the process of filing a divorce. It may not be instant divorce, but it will remove various delays, such as the requirements for the two-year separation period. 

The new law will require a minimum of 20 weeks between filing an initial application and receiving a conditional order. 

There may be an additional six weeks between the court’s conditional and final order. It means that the minimum time to get a divorce will have a six-month completion period which is way less than the previous waiting period. 

These six months provide the couple with sufficient time to go over their decision. It also helps the partners to discuss settlements such as finances and co-parenting plans. 

This way, the no-fault divorce will speed up the procedure by simplifying the basics of filing for a divorce. 

No-fault Divorce Changes

In the UK, no-fault divorce is available as an alternative to the traditional fault-based divorce process. Under the no-fault divorce process, couples can file for divorce without having to prove that either party is at fault for the breakdown of the marriage.

In order to file for a no-fault divorce in the UK, couples must first have been separated for a period of at least six months. Once this period has elapsed, either party can file for divorce by submitting a petition to the court. In the petition, they will need to state that they believe their marriage has irretrievably broken down and that they are seeking a divorce on this basis.

Once the petition has been filed, both parties will be required to attend a hearing where they will be asked to confirm their intention to divorce. If both parties agree to proceed with the divorce, then a decree nisi will be granted and the divorce will be finalised after a further six weeks.

If you are considering filing for a no-fault divorce in the UK, it is important that you seek legal advice from a qualified solicitor who can help you navigate the process and ensure that your rights are protected throughout.

What are the benefits of no-fault divorce?

When a couple decides to divorce, it can be a difficult and emotionally charged time. If the couple has children, the decision can be even more complicated. There are many factors to consider when deciding whether or not to divorce, including the impact on the children, finances, and emotional wellbeing.

No-fault divorce provides a way for couples to divorce without having to assign blame or fault. This can be beneficial as it can help to avoid conflict and make the process less stressful. It can also be quicker and cheaper than other types of divorce.

There are some drawbacks to no-fault divorce, however. It may not be suitable for couples who have been married for a long time or who have complex financial arrangements. It can also be difficult to change your mind once you have started the process.

If you are considering no-fault divorce, it is important to speak to a solicitor to get advice on your specific situation.

Are there any drawbacks to no-fault divorce?

There are a few potential drawbacks to no-fault divorce, particularly if one spouse is opposed to the divorce. In these cases, the process can be more costly and time-consuming than if both spouses agree to the divorce. Additionally, in some states that have adopted no-fault divorce laws, there is a waiting period before the divorce can be finalized. This waiting period can be anywhere from six months to a year, and during this time the couple must live apart.

How to get a no-fault divorce in the UK

In the UK, a no-fault divorce can be obtained if both parties to the marriage agree that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. This means that one party does not have to allege that the other party has committed adultery, behaved unreasonably or been at fault in order for the divorce to proceed.

A no-fault divorce can be filed by either party to the marriage. The divorce petition must state that the marriage has irretrievably broken down and must be signed by both parties. Once the petition is filed, there is a period of six months before the divorce can become finalised. During this time, either party can withdraw their consent to the divorce.

If both parties still agree that the marriage has ended after six months, then they can apply for a decree nisi. This is a legal document which states that the court is satisfied that all of the requirements for a divorce have been met and that there is no possibility of reconciliation between the spouses.

Once the decree nisi has been granted, there is a further period of six weeks before the divorce becomes finalised. If during this time either party changes their mind about getting divorced, they can apply to have the decree nisi set aside.

If neither party changes their mind during this six-week period, then a decree absolute will be issued and the divorce will become finalised.

How a divorce lawyer will help with a no fault divorce

When you file for a no fault divorce, your lawyer will help you by:

1. Drafting the necessary paperwork – your lawyer will ensure that all of the required paperwork is properly completed and filed with the court.

2. Helping you to understand the process – your lawyer can explain the no fault divorce process to you so that you know what to expect.

3. Negotiating with your spouse’s lawyer – if your spouse has hired a lawyer, your lawyer can negotiate with them on your behalf in order to reach a settlement agreement.

4. Representing you in court – if negotiations break down and your case goes to court, your lawyer will represent you and argue your case before the judge.

How long does it take for no fault divorce?

Although no fault divorce UK has only been available since December 2018, the process is relatively straightforward. How long it takes for no fault divorce will depend on a number of factors, including whether you and your spouse can agree on the terms of the divorce, and whether you have any children under the age of 18.

If you and your spouse are able to come to an agreement on the terms of the divorce, then you can file for a simplified divorce. This type of divorce can be completed in as little as six weeks. However, if there are any disputed issues, such as child custody or division of assets, then the divorce process will take longer.

If you have children under the age of 18, then you must wait a minimum of six months from the date of filing for divorce before it can be finalized. This waiting period can be waived if both parties agree to waive it and if there are no minor children involved in the divorce.

How a lawyer will help with a no fault divorce

A lawyer can help to ensure that a no fault divorce proceeds smoothly and efficiently. They can provide guidance on the grounds for divorce, the necessary paperwork, and how to negotiate a settlement with your spouse. A lawyer can also represent you in court if your spouse contest the divorce.

Get In Touch With Our No-Fault Divorce Lawyers

Even with a quick divorce process, many couples find it difficult to go over divorce settlements such as finances and childcare. This is where you require expert advice for legal settlements.

Do you want advice about a divorce, separation, or civil partnership dissolution? For tailored legal advice, you can contact us or request a free callback from our experts.

Our skilled and experienced experts will provide you with top-notch advice regarding no-fault divorce and associated court proceedings. They can guide you through the no-fault divorce law and provide you with insight into how the divorce process could become easier for you. 

Articles by Our Family Law Divorce Experts 

Here are some more articles related to divorce from our family law divorce experts, covering topics like how to find a divorce lawyer, how to apply for a divorce and how long does a divorce take.

Austin Kemp specialise in divorce, and have years of experience delivering the results our clients want. We have offices throughout the UK, including London solicitors, Manchester solicitors, Leeds solicitors, Huddersfield solicitors and more. Contact our family law solicitors today to see how we can help you.


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