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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 eventually passed two readings in the Commons and the committee stage. On the 6th of January 2020, the Divorce, Separation and Dissolution Bill was introduced to the House of Lords.

The bill has now been backed by MPs in England and Wales and passed its first hurdle in the Commons on Monday by 231 votes for and 16 against.

What will change?

Under the current divorce law, one spouse must allege adultery, desertion, or unreasonable behaviour to begin proceedings immediately. That decision can also be contested.

The reforms could mean a no-fault divorce can be granted to couples after just six months. With a no-fault divorce, couples will not have to attribute blame for the breakdown of their relationship, the couple will state that their marriage has broken down citing ‘irretrievable breakdown’.

The couple will be able to jointly apply for a divorce when the decision is mutual, and the bill will have fewer grounds to contest a divorce.

The Divorce, Separation and Dissolution Bill will apply to both marriages and civil partnerships and a minimum timeframe of six months from petition stage to decree absolute will be applied.

The bill also replaces the terms “decree nisi”, “decree absolute” and “petitioners” with “conditional order”, ‘final order” and “applicants”.

Divorce can be tough on a family and specifically for children, yet the new legislation could ease this needless animosity and help families move on with their lives.


We can help in all areas of family law and relationships, including:

  • Divorce and financial settlements
  • Relationship breakdown involving unmarried couples
  • Pre-nuptial and Separation Agreements
  • Civil Partnerships and many more.

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