No-Fault Divorce: The end of the blame game

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Jennifer Peebles


Phone 01264 325823


A significant change to divorce law is set to take from 6 April, ‘no-fault’ divorce will replace the current system. It’s a move welcomed by those of us who, over many decades, have helped couples formally separate, not least because of its potential to reduce some of the tension and acrimony that the divorce process has historically contributed to.

Under the former system, a divorce could only proceed if the marriage was shown to have irretrievably broken down because of one of the following:

  • Adultery

  • Unreasonable behaviour

  • Desertion

  • At least two years’ separation and both parties agree to divorce

  • At least five years’ separation

Where one partner had cheated on the other, it will be clear which basis will be relied upon. However other situations may be less straightforward. Perhaps more difficult of all, is the situation in which the marriage has simply run its course; neither party is at fault necessarily and things have just fizzled out. The person, or couple, set on divorce in that situation could opt to wait at least two years before starting the process or as has all too often been the case, they were forced to make allegations about their partner’s behaviour. In practical terms, this can set two people and the wider family on a downward, blame-fuelled spiral.

As a lawyer, I have seen the effects of this on those who might otherwise have worked through their divorce more constructively. Had fault not become such a focal point, there would have been more chance of constructive discussions, party-led agreements and the option of mediation. Those things are so much more difficult when allegations, criticism and fault were at the heart of the process.

As such the “no-fault” divorce will bring a positive change. We’ll see the introduction of a simple one-line statement confirming the marriage has irretrievably broken down, which will act as evidence as to the ground for divorce to proceed upon. While the ability of one of the parties to file a statement has the potential to take the other by surprise, it means people need not be trapped in marriages - something that we anticipate will be extremely helpful in situations of domestic abuse, as well as in other difficult relationships. This new route to divorce also means that blame can (in theory, at least) be set aside to allow the parties to focus on the process of legal separation and, crucially, their children’s best interests where children are involved.

To speak to us about separation or divorce, contact our team on 01264 353411 or at

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