2 July 2020

Time to end the blame game as ‘no fault divorce’ becomes law

The ‘No fault divorce’ is to become law after decades of campaigning by lawyers and family justice professionals. It comes at a time where law firms have received significantly increased levels of divorce enquiries due to the Coronavirus lockdown with pressures on some families becoming too much to bear.

This important change in the law which ends the requirement to find fault in order to be granted a divorce, is welcomed by Head of Family Services at Hayes + Storr, Rob Colwell who said: “At last couples can divorce quickly without having to find fault with one another. The requirement for couples to apportion blame is so firmly established that it can permeate every aspect of a separation – with children inevitably being drawn into the blame game. It’s hard to believe that fault based divorce law has endured since the mid-19th Century.”

Under the new law, couples are no longer required to assign blame to end their marriage. Instead, a spouse or a couple can apply for a divorce by making a statement of irretrievable breakdown.

A new minimum timeframe of six months from the initial application stage to the granting of a divorce will also be created, giving couples time to reflect and even change their minds. If reconciliation is not possible there will be enough time to agree practical arrangements, including how best to look after children.

Speculating on what this could mean for the future, Rob concluded by saying “hopefully we’ll see an end to a lot of unnecessary conflict and a more civilised 21st Century approach to separation.”

Rob is a member of Resolution; a national organisation of family lawyers committed to non-confrontational divorce. Resolution has campaigned for over 30 years to end the requirement for couples to assign fault in order to be granted a divorce.

At present, couples seeking a divorce in England and Wales must either spend a minimum of two years separated or one must blame the other for the marriage breakdown due to adultery or another form of unreasonable behaviour.

Now the bill has received Royal Assent it has become an Act of Parliament which is likely to take effect in 2021 once changes to systems and procedures have been implemented.

If you would like further advice on this matter please contact Rob on 01328 863231 or email law@hayes-storr.com.

This article aims to supply general information, but it is not intended to constitute advice. Every effort is made to ensure that the law referred to is correct at the date of publication and to avoid any statement which may mislead. However no duty of care is assumed to any person and no liability is accepted for any omission or inaccuracy. Always seek our specific advice.