No Fault Divorce

The most significant change to UK divorce laws in 50 years is due to come into effect on 6th April 2022. The aim of the new law is to help reduce conflict between separating spouses and make starting the divorce process easier. Removing the need to attribute  blame will hopefully help couples focus from the very outset on arrangements for their children and resolving financial issues.

What is the current law?

Under the current law there is only one ground for a divorce, namely that the marriage has broken down irretrievably which has to be evidenced by relying one of the following five facts: adultery, unreasonable behaviour,  desertion, two years separation with consent and five years separation. This means that for couples who have not been separated for at least two years they currently have no option but to rely on either adultery or unreasonable behaviour to obtain a divorce.

What does no fault divorce mean for separating couples?

Under the new law, the sole ground for a divorce will remain irretrievable breakdown of the marriage but there will no longer be a requirement to cite a reason for the breakdown or evidence a minimum period of separation.  The family team at Hart Brown are really pleased that clients will no longer have to recount painful events that happened in the past or read criticisms regarding their alleged behaviour all of which can increase conflict and costs. A statement of irretrievable breakdown can be submitted by one spouse or for the first time spouses can make a joint application.  There will also be a minimum period of 20 weeks from starting the divorce process and the first stage of the divorce to give parties time for reflection and to deal with the finances and child arrangements.  The option of contesting a divorce has also been removed which will save time and costs for many couples.

Should you wait until 6th April 2022?

This will depend on the circumstances of the case. The process under the new law will not be quicker.  It will take a minimum period of 6 months to obtain a divorce but in reality will take longer as it is anticipated that the Courts will be inundated with applications in April. If your spouse is likely to contest the divorce or if you have not been separated for at least two years it would be sensible to wait for the new law. However, if you and your spouse agree that the marriage has broken down and you wish to formalise the separation and financial settlement without delay you may want to consider starting the proceedings now under the current law.  Applications under the existing law must be submitted to the Court by no later than 31st March.

Whatever your position it is important to seek early legal advice particularly if you have arrangements for children and financial issues to formalise all of which our experienced team are able to assist with.

To discuss this, or any other Family Law related matter, please contact Dimple directly on 01483 887766, email or start a live chat today.

*This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.


Dimple Patel

Associate, Family Law

Dimple is an Associate Solicitor in the family law department. She qualified as a solicitor in 2007 after reading law at City University, London and...

Associate, Family Law

Dimple Patel

Dimple is an Associate Solicitor in the family law department. She qualified as a solicitor in 2007 after reading law at City University, London and has worked as a family solicitor in Surrey and London. She joined Hart Brown in 2022.

Her practice involves advising on a broad range of family matters. She has particular expertise in dealing with financial settlements on divorce and regularly acts for clients with high value assets, businesses, pensions and assets located abroad. She also deals with the variation and enforcement of existing financial orders.

Dimple has considerable experience in advising on arrangements for children and relocation of children both within England and Wales and abroad. She also advises on pre and post nuptial agreements, cohabitation agreements, financial claims for children of unmarried parents and issues around domestic violence.

Dimple is a member of Resolution, a national organisation of family lawyers and other professionals committed to the constructive resolution of family disputes. She aims to provide clear, practical, tailored advice with a focus on early settlement.

Dimple often receives wonderful feedback from her clients, here are just a few testimonials.

“Dimple is very professional and reliable. I was able to always count on her excellent advice, quick responses to my queries and sympathetic balanced communications with all parties. I would whole heartedly recommend her to anyone dealing with family legal issues”

“Dimple quickly understood the challenges I was facing and we spoke a lot on the phone which I found helpful and calming. She is very bright, professional and warm and just the person one needs when dealing with difficult and unfamiliar issues. Dimple is committed, has good judgment and eye for detail. She is a highly competent solicitor and I highly recommend her.”

“Thank you so much for your help, support and advice through this difficult process. I appreciate all you’ve done and look forward to a brighter future, thanks to your help”

“Thank you so much for everything you’ve done for me. You were so easy to work with at every stage of the game and I really appreciated having you to turn to. I still can’t believe how smoothly everything went! And the good news is, I’m genuinely finding happiness again in my life.”

“Thank you for your assistance and support over the last few years in relation to my difficult and challenging divorce proceedings and help to conclude the child matters with the best result I could have hoped for. I appreciate all your efforts on my case. I am so happy that I am spending quality time with my son and that he is getting to know his extended paternal family. Thank you for helping to make this happen.”