Blame is at the heart of getting a divorce under the current system, increasing conflict and making agreement on parenting and financial settlement more difficult, even when couples are trying to be amicable. When it's introduced, no fault divorce will end this damaging blame game.
Parliament passed the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act in June 2020. When this comes into force, probably in the autumn of 2021, the law and procedure for getting a divorce will change completely.
All the current grounds for divorce including references to adultery, "unreasonable behaviour" and desertion will go. They will be replaced with a simple statement at the beginning that the marriage has broken down, followed by a waiting period and then further confirmation of the breakdown before the final divorce order is made.
There will be changes to the archaic terminology to make it simpler and easier to understand. The divorce petition will become a divorce application and the decree nisi and decree absolute will instead be called conditional order and final order.
For the first time it will be possible for a couple to apply for the divorce 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. We know that the divorce process we've been saddled with for so long makes it more difficult to help people reach agreement, even when that's their starting point.
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.