No fault divorce is coming

No fault divorce is due to come into effect in England and Wales on 6 April 2022. From this date couples will be able to get divorced without one person needing to blame the other. This change will also apply to civil partnership dissolution 

The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 will be the biggest reform of divorce law in 50 years and means you’ll no longer have to make allegations about your partner’s conduct to obtain a divorce. Currently one spouse must allege adultery or unreasonable behaviour to prove the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage or wait at least two years.

Under the new law, irretrievable breakdown will remain the sole basis for divorce but the need to give a reason will be removed. Couples can make a joint application where they both agree the relationship has broken down or, alternatively, one person can apply. There will be a minimum of 20 weeks between issuing a divorce petition and reaching the first stage of the divorce to give the couple a period of reflection and the possibility of reconciliation.

This long-awaited reform to the law will enable couples and their lawyers to focus on positive uncoupling rather than allocating blame, especially when a parting of ways is a mutual decision and there are children involved. Children undoubtedly cope better with a separation when their parents are not in conflict and can see a joined-up approach to their parenting.

According to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics, the average duration of a marriage at the time of divorce is 12.3 years for opposite-sex couples. This is a long time to share your life with someone and often having a good relationship with your ex and with wider family and friends is high priority, but this can be ruined by the legal process or the wrong approach by a lawyer. A good divorce lawyer will listen to what is important to you and work with your spouse and their lawyer, as well as other professionals you may need to support you along the way.

Should you wait for no-fault divorce to start?

There is a lot to think about before you even issue a divorce petition, so we recommend you get advice early. There are different tax rules depending on whether you are married, separated or divorced. Tax advantages may only apply in the current tax year and therefore it is important to take tax advice before 5 April.

What next?

For an initial, free consultation and to find out about our fixed fee divorce, or to find out more about Shoosmiths’ relationship coaching service, please contact us: 03700 868686 or by e-mail

Boxout: A useful source of support to help parents journey through separation, divorce and beyond is Resolution’s Parenting Through Separation Guide. You can download a copy from their website: