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No-fault Divorce Solicitors

The introduction of no-fault divorce in England and Wales has simplified the process of ending a marriage. However, it is still important to get expert legal advice to navigate the process and protect your interests. Our expert no-fault divorce solicitors at Harrowells can guide you through the changes and what they mean for your divorce.

Divorce law in England and Wales changed on 6 April 2022 with the introduction of no-fault divorce (sometimes called ‘no-blame divorce’), making the process for ending your marriage more straightforward. This also applies to civil partnership dissolution. The intention is to modernise divorce and civil partnership dissolution proceedings and remove the potential for unnecessary conflict.

While no-blame divorce should make things simpler for separating couples, it is still essential to get specialist legal advice. This ensures that you fully understand the implications of getting divorced or ending a civil partnership, including for your finances and any children you have.

It is essential that any financial settlement is negotiated and agreed before the divorce is finalised. You need to have a Consent Order in place to make this settlement legally binding as this avoids your former spouse making any further claim against your assets in future.

Want to know more about no-fault divorce? Take a look at our guide to how UK divorce law has changed.

Contact our expert no-fault divorce solicitors

We are physically based in Yorkshire but we regularly assist clients throughout England and Wales.

Our no-fault divorce solicitors are very happy to hold a meeting with you by phone or video call, so please email advice@harrowells.co.uk to set up a meeting.

For more locally based clients, we can meet you at one of our network of offices across North and East Yorkshire in York, St SaviourgateClifton MoorHaxbyEasingwold, Thirsk, Pocklington or Malton.

How Harrowells can help with no-fault divorce

At Harrowells, our talented team of divorce solicitors can guide you through the new no-fault divorce process. We can assist with issues including:

  • Ensuring court papers have been properly served as part of the no-fault divorce procedure, avoiding any delays to your divorce
  • Negotiating a financial settlement or applying to a court to decide the division of finances (including checking your pension rights)
  • Applying to the court for a Consent Order to make any voluntary settlement legally binding
  • Making arrangements for any children you have

Our no-fault divorce solicitors will work closely with you to understand what you want life to look like after your divorce and then help you to get there.

Our Divorce team are recognised by the Legal 500, one of the leading client guides for the UK legal profession. This provides independent verification that we offer an exceptional standard of expertise and client service.

Our divorce fees are fair and transparent. We can work on a fixed fee or deferred fee basis where appropriate.

Contact us today to speak to one of our expert no-fault divorce lawyers.

Our services related to no-fault divorce

As well as advising on the new divorce process, our team can assist with matters including:

Our no-fault divorce solicitors’ fees

At Harrowells, we will listen to what you want to achieve and outline the options available to you. 

We will explain the fees we estimate will be involved in dealing with your divorce right from the outset. We will discuss funding options to cover the cost of a no-fault divorce with you to ensure it is affordable for you to obtain legal advice before we commence work.

Please note: Harrowells is not able to offer legal aid.

What is no-fault divorce?

No-fault divorce refers to the fact that there is no longer any need for either spouse to take the blame for the end of the marriage. For this reason, it is also sometimes called a ‘no-blame divorce’ in the UK. This means you do not need to say that either spouse is at fault as part of the divorce application. This has been introduced by the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020, which came into force in April 2022, and is sometimes referred to as the “no-fault divorce law”.

Previously, you had to give one of five accepted reasons for the end of the marriage, which were:

  1. Adultery – meaning one spouse had been unfaithful with someone of the opposite sex.
  2. Unreasonable behaviour – meaning one spouse had behaved in a manner that meant it would be unreasonable to expect the other to remain married to them.
  3. Desertion – meaning one spouse had left the other for at least two years out of the previous two and half years without consent or a good reason and with the intention to end the relationship.
  4. Separation for at least 2 years – if both spouses agreed to the divorce.
  5. Separation for at least 5 years – without the need for both spouses to agree to the divorce.

The first three reasons meant that one spouse would need to accept the fault for the end of the marriage in order for the divorce to progress. If they did not agree, a court would need to decide whether the reason cited in the divorce petition was accurate. The final two reasons required long waits before a divorce could be granted.

Introducing no-fault divorce in England and Wales is intended to remove the potential for conflict over the reasons for the divorce and simplify the divorce process. Other changes introduced by the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 are covered below.

What other changes are there to UK divorce law in 2022?

As well as removing the need to assign blame as part of divorce proceedings, the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 has introduced other key changes to the divorce process, including:

  • It is no longer possible to contest a divorce started by your spouse (except in very rare cases where the English and Welsh courts lack the jurisdiction to deal with your divorce)
  • Couples can now apply for a divorce together (a ‘joint application’), but one spouse can still apply by themselves (a ‘sole application’)
  • Key terms have been updated to use plain English, so:
    • The person applying for a divorce is now the ‘applicant’ (formerly the ‘petitioner’)
    • The interim order needed to progress a divorce is now called the ‘Conditional Order’ (formerly the ‘Decree Nisi’)
    • The final court order that legally ends a marriage is now called the ‘Final Order (formerly the ‘Decree Absolute’)

How long does a no-fault divorce take?

Divorce now takes a minimum of 26 weeks (6 months) under the new no-fault divorce rules. This is due to a new 20-week wait period that has been introduced to the process before you can apply to the court for a Conditional Order, which is a key part of the divorce process.

There was already a 6-week wait once this interim order was issued before you could apply for the Final Order, which ends your marriage. Combined, these two wait periods add up to 26-week no-fault divorce timeline.

You should also allow time for completing the divorce application and the court processing the documents, so in practice, your divorce will likely take a little over 26 weeks.

How do you apply for a no-fault divorce?

The no-fault divorce application process is relatively straightforward, but it is important to follow the necessary steps correctly.

First, you will need to complete an application online (or on paper if you prefer). You and your spouse can do this together, or you can apply alone.

The court will then formally ‘issue’ the divorce, after which you will need to wait 20 weeks before applying for the Conditional Order. Once the court ‘issues’ the Conditional Order, this acts as confirmation that the court sees no reason your divorce cannot proceed.

6 weeks after the Conditional Order has been issued, you can apply for the Final Order. Once the court issues the Final Order, your marriage is legally ended.

If you are making a sole application, there is an additional step. When the court first issues the divorce, it will also send a copy to your spouse (referred to as the ‘respondent’). The respondent will then have 14 days to return an Acknowledgment of Service form confirming that they have received the divorce application. If the respondent fails to do this, it will not prevent your divorce, but proceedings may take a little longer.

Our team will be happy to help you with how to apply for a no-fault divorce, guiding you through the entire process.

When did no-fault divorce start?

No-fault divorce started in England and Wales on 6 April 2022.

Can you contest a no-fault divorce?

In almost all cases, the answer is no, you will not be able to contest a divorce started by your spouse under the new no-fault divorce rules. The only exception is where the English and Welsh courts do not have jurisdiction to process your divorce e.g. if neither you nor your spouse has a connection to the UK or if your marriage was not valid for some reason.

Do both parties have to agree to a no-fault divorce?

No, it is not required for both spouses to consent to the divorce for it to go ahead.

If one spouse starts the divorce process by themselves (a sole application), then the other spouse (known as the ‘respondent’) will be issued a copy of the divorce application and they will need to provide written confirmation that this has been received before the divorce can go ahead.

If the respondent fails to provide confirmation that they have received a copy of the divorce application, then the divorce can still go ahead, but the process will take slightly longer as the court will need to be able to demonstrate that sufficient efforts have been made to notify the respondent.

What are the pros and cons of no-fault divorce?

The key advantages of no-fault divorce are:

  • Removing the need to assign blame for the end of the marriage cuts out a huge potential source of tension and conflict from the process.
  • It is no longer possible to contest a divorce in almost all cases, helping to prevent people from being trapped in a marriage they wish to leave.
  • The no-fault divorce process is simpler, making it less stressful for separating couples.

While there are no real problems with no-fault divorce, some things to consider are:

  • The new rules have introduced an additional wait period of 20 weeks before applying for the interim Conditional Order, which could make the divorce process slightly longer for some people.
  • Some people might feel disappointed that their spouse will not have to “accept responsibility for their actions” as part of the process.

In practice, however, the vast majority of couples should significantly benefit from the new process.


Contact our no-fault divorce solicitors

Whether you need help with the no-fault divorce process, separating your finances, making arrangements for children or any other divorce-related issues, our no-fault divorce lawyers will be happy to help.

We are physically based in Yorkshire, but we regularly assist clients throughout England and Wales because of our recognised expertise and effectiveness in advising on all aspects of family law.

We are very happy to hold a meeting with you by phone or video call. For more locally based clients, we can meet you at one of our network of offices across North and East Yorkshire in York, St SaviourgateClifton MoorHaxbyEasingwold, Thirsk, Pocklington or Malton.