In England and Wales, there is only one ground for divorce: that the marriage has broken down irretrievably.

No Fault Divorce

On 6th April 2022, the No Fault Divorce came into effect which allows for couples to divorce without blaming the other party. This also applies to civil partnership dissolution.

The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 overhauls the existing law governing divorce, dissolution of civil partnerships and judicial separation set out in the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973.

Whilst the only ground for divorce or dissolution remains that the marriage or civil partnership has broken down irretrievably, applicants must now only provide a statement in support of their application to explain how the marriage or civil partnership has broken down, and this is not limited to the five previous reasons.  The court must accept that statement and application as conclusive evidence that the marriage or civil partnership has broken down irretrievably.  This means that the other party cannot defend or contest an application for divorce or dissolution made by their spouse.

As there is now no requirement to apportion blame to the other party, it is likely that divorces and dissolutions will now be far more amicable.  It could also have a positive effect when it comes to the division of financial assets and any issues relating to any children of the family if there are no pre-existing ill feelings arising from what is said in the initial divorce or dissolution application.

Divorce (Five ‘Facts’)

Prior to 6th April 2022 applying for a divorce meant that the petitioner had to rely on one of the following ‘facts’:

  • Adultery
  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Desertion
  • Two years’ separation with consent
  • Five years’ separation

The court must be satisfied that this fact shows an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.  A couple cannot divorce if they have been married for less than one year.

Once a divorce petition has been issued by the court, it will then be sent to the respondent along with a blank acknowledgement of service.  The respondent must then send the completed acknowledgement of service back to the court, confirming whether or not he/she accepts the divorce petition.

The petitioner will then be able to apply for a decree nisi.  The court will consider the application and decide whether or not the petition adequately shows that the marriage has broken down irretrievably.  If the court is satisfied then a date, will be set down for the decree nisi to be pronounced.

After the pronouncement of the decree nisi, the petitioner will be able to apply for it to be made absolute after a period of six weeks has passed.  The decree absolute finalises the divorce process and replaces the original marriage certificate as the document which evidences a person’s marital status.

A divorce will have an effect upon what happens to your assets if you die, so divorcing parties should make a will as soon as possible following a divorce.

Funding for advice and legal representation

Legal aid may be available to assist you in these areas of law.  Please contact one of our specialist team who will be able to assess your eligibility.

If you are not eligible for legal aid then please contact us to discuss your options and to obtain a quote.  We offer flexible and competitive prices for all our privately paying clients.