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What to know about no-fault divorce

Justice Secretary David Gauke has announced that the government will introduce legislation to start no-fault divorce as soon as parliamentary time is available during the next session.

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The new law will end the blame game of marital breakdown by reviewing the limited grounds for divorce set out in the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. These required an applicant to establish fault on the part of their partner through adultery, unreasonable behaviour or desertion. If both sides agreed to a divorce, proof of two years of separation would mean they could proceed. In the absence of agreement, the parties had to wait until they had been living apart for five years.

Under the new legislation, the need for evidence of adultery, desertion or unreasonable behaviour will be replaced by the necessity to show the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.


The changes in the law governing divorce have been prompted by a Supreme Court ruling last year in the Owens v Owens case in which the husband resisted the divorce and the judges ruled in his favour, insisting a period of five years of separation must elapse before the divorce proceedings could begin.

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Advice is vital for those seeking a divorce, especially as the law is about to change in such a dramatic fashion. Whether you are living in Macclesfield, Morden or Manchester solicitors with extensive family law experience can be found at sites such as https://bridgelawsolicitors.co.uk/offices/wilmslow-manchester/.

The new law will set a minimum time frame of six months for the divorce process from initial petition to decree absolute, with the current six-week period between decree nisi and decree absolute remaining.


The government intends to introduce similar changes to the law governing the dissolution of civil partnerships.

Although the changes were prompted by the Supreme Court, records show that divorces were only contested in 2% of cases over the past three years. During the same period, almost 60% of cases relied on conduct facts.

The solicitors governing body, the Law Society, supports the changes, believing that the removal of the blame element will allow couples to concentrate on issues such any children of the marriage, finance and property matters.

The organisation believes that the government should ensure that the divorce process is easier to navigate and has suggested that the government should reintroduce legal aid for advice on divorce.


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