No Fault Divorce delayed until April 2022

In a blow to many couples seeking to get divorced, the government has recently confirmed that the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act, which covers no fault divorce, won’t be introduced in the autumn as originally planned. It has now been delayed until 6 April 2022. The reason given is to allow sufficient time for the digital aspect of the service to be developed and tested.

Courts minister, Chris Philp MP, in response to a parliamentary question on the subject said ‘The Ministry of Justice is committed to ensuring that the amended digital service allows for a smooth transition from the existing service which has reformed the way divorce is administered in the courts and improved the service received by divorcing couples at a traumatic point in their lives.’

Responding to the statement, Law Society president Stephanie Boyce, said: ‘While we’re disappointed at the delay to the reforms, we welcome the continued commitment to ensuring the reforms are fit for purpose. It is better to have a working system in place rather than forging ahead when there are known issues.’

Rachel Macwilliam, our Family Law specialist explains the current situation with regards to bringing a case for divorce:

The current rules
The current legislation means that one partner needs to prove the other is at fault through adultery, unreasonable behaviour or desertion, or if both agree, a divorce can be granted after two years of separation. Otherwise, the couple must wait until they have lived apart for 5 years. These requirements often either create unnecessary hostility between the parties at the outset or create a situation where parties are unable to move on until the two-year or five-year mark has been passed.

What the changes will mean
The changes to the existing divorce laws would mean that, the only thing that the parties involved would need to establish, is that their marriage has broken down – there does not need to be a particular ‘fact’ or any blame attributed to support or justify the breakdown. Hopefully, this could make the process less acrimonious. The introduction of a minimum time frame of 6 months between starting the divorce process and final order (currently known as decree absolute) allows couples to reflect on their decision. The changes will also mean that it will no longer be possible to contest a divorce.

A more positive outcome
Increasingly couples are preferring to explore mediation where possible, something that government policy is looking to encourage. The introduction of a no-fault divorce would therefore seem to be in line with the way most couples would prefer to divorce, and result in a better, less hostile experience for divorcing couples as well as for their families

Get in touch
If you would like to speak to Rachel or a member of our Family Law team about Divorce and Separation, please contact her on 01872 241408 or email