What is no-fault divorce and what does it mean for couples considering a separation?

Divorced parents sharing custody of child

Reducing conflict can help divorced or separated couples focus on what matters most - their family. - Credit: Getty Images

Everything you need to know about no-fault divorce, how it can ease stress for your family and make divorce proceedings more accessible to couples seeking separation.

Simon Thomas, from Leeds Day LLP Solicitors in Cambridgeshire, explains how no-fault divorce can help your family move on and look forward to the future.

Q: What is a no-fault divorce?

Couple deciding to divorce under new divorce legislation, the no-fault divorce

No-fault divorce offers couples that want to separate the option to do this amicably, without laying blame at one another's door. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

A: It’s an alternative way for couples to divorce, without needing to lay blame at one another’s door. It gives couples, who have fallen out of love or both agree they no longer wish to be together, the option to dissolve the marriage amicably. 

The new law comes into effect in autumn 2021 after the Divorce, Dissolution, and Separation Act was passed in 2020. It’s one of the most significant changes to divorce legislation for almost 200 years and is an important step in updating divorce law to better reflect the modern world we live in.

Q: How does the no-fault divorce differ from current divorce legislation?

A: Under the current system couples must prove one of five facts to divorce and show that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. They’re required to demonstrate their spouse has committed adultery, demonstrated unreasonable behaviour, or has deserted them for over two years, for a divorce application to be accepted.

Divorced dad spends time with son following co-parenting custody arrangements

It enables couples to focus on how to co-parent effectively and minimise the impact of the divorce on the children. - Credit: Getty Images

Either that or you must be separated for two years first if your spouse agrees to a divorce, or for five years if they don’t. This can be very restrictive and trap one or both parties in an unhappy, unhealthy, or potentially abusive marriage for a long time.

No-fault divorce will allow couples to mutually state irretrievable breakdown as the reason for wanting a divorce, without needing to provide evidence of bad behaviour or go into any further detail. This can be done in a joint statement or by an individual.

Q: How can no-fault divorce benefit couples considering separation?

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A: The process is streamlined, uses modern language to make divorce proceedings simple and more accessible, and is quicker. Within 26 weeks you can get your final order to end the marriage completely.

It can help reduce conflict and enable couples to focus on practical matters like how they will divide their assets, finances, and property - and most importantly, on their family. Easing tensions will lessen the impact of divorce on the children, make it easier to prioritise their needs and plan how to co-parent effectively.

Q: Should you wait to get a no-fault divorce?

Mum in orchard with daughter after seeking legal advice for divorce

Seeking specialist family law advice can help you focus on the future, understand your next steps and make the best decision for your family. - Credit: Getty Images

A:  Everyone’s journey is different - I recommend consulting with a family lawyer to help you make a fully informed decision. At Leeds Day LLP, we can help you find the answers you need, discuss your options, and offer advice and guidance, to help you feel better prepared.

Q: What advice can you offer to couples or individuals considering a separation or divorce?

A: It’s best to seek advice sooner rather than later, to help you get organised and ensure this is the right decision for you. We offer a 30-minute consultation where we’ll get to know you and your situation and can offer bespoke, tailored advice. There’s no obligation for you to act straight away, you can take all the time you need.

Man taking off wedding ring and considering getting a divorce

There's no need to act right away - you can meet with a family lawyer to discuss your circumstances - and take as much time as you need to decide if a divorce is what you want. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Our family law team has over 60 years of combined experience and specialises in family law and resolving financial and children related disputes. We’re dedicated to providing a professional and personal service, to make this challenging time as easy for you and your family as possible.

We’re here to help you focus on the future and reassure you as you take the next steps in your life.

Leeds Day LLP is an award-winning firm and is recognised by the Law Society as having met the highest standards of client care with Lexcel accreditation and ranked as a leading law firm in the Legal500. 

Our family lawyers are also members of Resolution (the family law association for England and Wales) and include Resolution accredited specialists in finance and child matters.

Visit leedsday.co.uk/family to book an appointment or find out more.

Call 0844 567 2222 or email family@leedsday.co.uk.