No-Fault Divorce: Major changes to divorce law in the UK

No-Fault Divorce concept
Legally reviewed by: Shakeela Bi In: Family

Couples will no longer need to rely on blame or wait lengthy separation periods to get a divorce from 6th April 2022 when the new “No-Fault Divorce” comes into force, in what is the biggest update to England’s divorce laws in almost 50 years.

In this article, our family law experts explain what the changes mean for couples looking to separate.

What is a No-fault divorce?

The No-Fault Divorce enables a couple to legally separate through divorce but does not assign blame for the breakdown in the relationship to either party.

Previously, a couple wishing to divorce needed to prove that their relationship had irretrievably broken down, through one of five facts, including:

  • Adultery
  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Desertion for at least two years
  • Separation for at least two years, with the consent of both parties
  • Separation for at least five years even if one party disagrees there should be a divorce

However, the changes form part of the Government’s Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 and will reform the divorce process to remove the need for either party to be blamed.

It is to be hoped that the no-fault divorce will remove the need to contest the grounds for divorce. However, there will still be limited legal grounds for a respondent to challenge the divorce in some cases.

What are the key changes to divorce law?

Here is a breakdown of the key divorce law changes coming into effect on 6 April 2022.

Couples can now make a joint application for divorce

This means that proceedings no longer have to be brought forward by just one party, strengthening the position of a joint decision for the split.

In the case of a joint application, the court will send notice of the issued petition to both parties and they must acknowledge receipt. With sole applications, the respondent must file an acknowledgement of service within 14 days.

A minimum of 20 weeks cooling off period

Under the new legislation, couples must take a minimum allowable period of 20 weeks between the initial application and the conditional order, and another six weeks between the conditional and final orders to allow the chance for reconciliation.

The court will have the discretion to shorten this period if required and there’ll be special protection for the respondent to delay the final order.

That means that even the smoothest divorce will now take at least six months or more to complete.

Divorce can be granted without blame

All that is now required is for at least one spouse to provide a legal statement to say the marriage has broken down irretrievably. This statement counts as conclusive evidence and cannot be contested.

What are the benefits of No-Fault Divorce?

The change should help couples to remain amicable after the separation as they will be able to proceed without the need for either party to blame the other at any stage.

This is also beneficial for couples when approaching financial settlement, going through mediation or planning arrangements for any children involved as it will be easier to negotiate a fair deal that suits all parties without the shadow of blame in the background.

The cooling-off period will also help couples to work out if the decision is the right one and not just reactionary. It places trust in the hands of a married couple to decide if the marriage is over rather than this being a judiciary decision.

How can Cartwright King help with divorce?

We know that divorce can be stressful and life-changing, which is why we will do everything we can to minimise difficulties and protect your interests.

Our Divorce specialists go above and beyond to give you the support you need alongside exceptional legal guidance.

We listen, we understand and we genuinely care about helping you find closure and be able to move on with your life. That’s why we offer sound, honest, reliable legal advice to ensure that you’re prepared for the process.

Find out more about how we can help at

Legal Disclaimer.

All advice is correct at time of publication.