Skip to main content

2020 is going to be a big year for divorce laws as neither side of divorcing couple will need to accept blame for the breakdown of their marriage.  This law is one of the biggest changes of divorce law in the last 50 years and it aims to reduce the impact of unnecessary family conflict.

As the law currently stands, when filing for a divorce, you and your partner will need to prove that your marriage has broken down due to one or more of the following reasons: Adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, that you have been separated for more than two years or if you’ve been separated for at least five years. If you have been separated for at least five years you can apply for a divorce even if your husband or wife does not agree.

In April 2019, the UK government announced it will introduce legislation to overhaul the divorce system and that a new no-fault divorce law will be brought into force.  The Divorce, Separation and Dissolution Bill came to a standstill a few times in 2019 but it has now passed two readings in the Commons and the committee stage. On the 6th of January 2020, it was introduced to the House of Lords.

What is a no-fault divorce?

A no-fault divorce will mean that couples won’t have to attribute blame for the breakdown of their relationship, the couple can state that their marriage has broken down citing ‘irretrievable breakdown’ either in a joint statement or separately.

The no-fault divorce will apply on both marriages and civil partnerships and a minimum timeframe of six months from petition stage to decree absolute (the legal document that ends a marriage) will be applied.

Justice Secretary David Gauke said: “Hostility and conflict between parents leave their mark on children and can damage their life chances. While we will always uphold the institution of marriage, it cannot be right that our outdated law creates or increases conflict between divorcing couples.”

Our family lawyers have long been in favour of a no-fault divorce. Divorce can be tough on a family and specifically for children, our laws should make the process even harder by driving couples to play the blame game.

The proposed legislation will ease this needless animosity and help families move on with their lives.

In more detail, the new bill will:

  • Remove the possibility of contesting the divorce process.
  • Change the writing to plain English, for example, ‘decree nisi’’ will be changed to conditional order and ‘decree absolute’ to final order.
  • The five facts or five reasons will be replaced with a new requirement to provide a statement of irretrievable breakdown.
  • Lastly, the bill will introduce an option for a joint application as mentioned above.


For more details on divorce and family law please use the contact form on our website for an initial free chat.

Read our blog on how to get a divorce in England.