No fault divorce

On 6 April 2022, the law and procedure for getting a divorce or civil partnership dissolution changed completely. 

Before 6 April 2022, someone applying for a divorce had to “prove” that their marriage was over by relying on either adultery, "unreasonable behaviour", separation or desertion.  This system increased conflict between a separating couple, making an agreement on parenting or financial settlement more difficult even when couples were trying to be amicable. 

After 6 April 2022, someone applying for a divorce will have to sign a simple statement that their marriage has broken down, followed by a 20 week waiting period before being able to progress their divorce by applying for an interim divorce order called a conditional order (a decree nisi under the pre-6 April 2022 system).  Six weeks and one day later, the applicant can then apply for the final divorce order (a decree absolute under the old system).

There have also been changes to the terminology used in the divorce process to make it simpler and easier to understand. For example, a divorce petition will become a divorce application and the decree nisi and decree absolute will instead be called conditional order and final order.

A fundamental change is that that for the first time in England and Wales  it will also be possible for a couple to apply for a divorce or dissolution jointly.

Our experience in no fault divorce

This is the most fundamental change in divorce law for 50 years and is the culmination of a campaign in which our family team has played a leading part.

Our divorce and children lawyers are passionate about taking the heat out of a divorce. We promote out of court options such as mediation, collaborative divorce and arbitration whenever we can. 

All of our family lawyers are members of Resolution which promotes a constructive approach to separation and divorce. When Nigel Shepherd, our Head of Family Law at that time and long-time campaigner for no fault divorce, was national chair of the organisation in 2018, Mills & Reeve represented Resolution in the Supreme Court in the hugely influential case of Owens v Owens. This case was a key reason behind this long overdue change in the divorce laws.

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