No-fault divorce

Date last updated: 27 April 2022

What is no-fault divorce?

From 6th April 2022, new ‘no-fault divorce’ laws come into effect. This means that a couple can now get divorced without needing to blame one another for the breakdown of their marriage.

Before, a divorcing couple had to have ‘grounds for divorce’, meaning one person had to be blamed for breaking up the marriage, for example by adultery, or the couple had to spend two or more years living apart. This old system is now being replaced with no-fault divorce and no longer applies.

This means that a couple can agree to divorce without blaming each other. This means less conflict and allows them to focus on the needs of their children.

Who applies for the divorce?

Under the new system, a couple can make a joint application for divorce together if they believe that their marriage has broken down and cannot be fixed.

Alternatively, you can apply for divorce on your own. Unlike under the old laws, your husband or wife can’t contest this. If one person says the marriage is over, then it is.

If you’re applying for a divorce, you should also look at our advice on action to take when a relationship ends.

What is the new divorce process?

Application for divorce order

The process begins with the application for divorce order, which begins the legal process.

You can do this online yourself through gov.uk’s divorce pages. Currently it costs £593 to apply online or by post. It is assumed this will still be the case under no-fault divorce but it could change. You may be able to get help with this cost if you claim certain benefits or are on a low income. See the gov.uk page on getting help with court fees for more information.

You may instead prefer to hire a solicitor or lawyer to manage the divorce process. The guide ‘‘What to expect when using a solicitor’ by the Law Society provides information on how to choose a solicitor, the questions to ask and how to prepare for a meeting with them.

Reflection period

Once the divorce process has begun there will be a 20 week ‘reflection’ period that you must wait for. This is essentially a cooling off period to make sure that you definitely want to go through with the divorce.

Conditional Order

After the reflection period is over you can apply for your Conditional Order. This can be done online via the gov.uk divorce page or by post.

The Conditional Order will involve sorting out how your finances will be divided up between you and your husband or wife. If you’re having trouble agreeing on this, see our information on legal help when you can’t agree for more details on your options.

Final Order

6 weeks after the Conditional Order has been made then you can apply for your final order. Again this can be done online via the gov.uk divorce page or by post. Once you receive your Final Order you are officially divorced.

It will take approximately 4 weeks of court processing time from your application until you receive the order. This means that with the reflection period, and the time to get your Conditional Order and Final Order, the divorce process will take a minimum of 30 weeks.

For more information

We will be updating this guide with more information as we learn more about how the new system works in practice.

For more information on no-fault divorce, you can call our helpline for support. You can also read this detailed guide to divorce by Rights of Women.

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