Lancashire Times
A Voice of the North
Lilly Grant
Family Law Writer
3:00 PM 13th June 2021

No-fault Divorce Heralds End Of Bitter ‘Blame Game’

Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay
Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay
The welcome news that divorcing couples can obtain a no-fault divorce from 6 April 2022 marks the most dramatic and far-reaching change in divorce laws in 50 years.

No-fault divorce finally ends the bitter ‘blame game’, making it easier for people to manage their separation and work together to avoid lengthy and stressful court disputes.

Under current legislation, to petition for divorce the petitioner must satisfy one of the following five facts to establish that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.

1. Unreasonable behaviour
2. Adultery
3. Two years separation with the consent of the other party;
4. Five years separation without consent; and
5. Desertion.

This means that unless couples have lived apart for two or five years, one partner has to take some form of blame, either adultery or unreasonable behaviour.
No fault divorce will provide a less acrimonious divorce process, enabling one or both parties to issue a petition for divorce simply with a statement confirming that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.

A 20 week period for reflection follows - after which a conditional order is made. Once a further 6 weeks expires a Final Order can be granted.

While Children and Financial Arrangements will still be resolved separately, it is anticipated that the removal of ‘allegations’ will promote a better atmosphere for discussion and agreement.

The importance of putting children’s interests first is paramount as prolonged divorce proceedings can cause conflict and lingering resentment and have long-term repercussions on their health and education.

Designed to reflect society’s attitudes, the legislation was originally set to come into force in autumn 2021. The delay to 6 April 2022 is to enable the court IT system to be up and running with the new process.