Key features of new ‘no fault’ divorce law explained

Megan Bennie

Solicitor

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April 7, 2022

The introduction of new divorce laws in England and Wales marks a fundamental shift to a ‘no fault’ system, but what will this mean in practice for couples looking to separate?

Megan Bennie, a Solicitor with Furley Page’s Family Law team, welcomes the new laws which she believes are sensible reforms that will bring her clients a range of new options when considering whether to divorce.

Megan said: “The shift to a ‘no fault’ system is the result of 50 years of campaigning and marks a radical change. The previous fault-based system pitted couples who were already experiencing issues against one another, requiring them to engage in a ‘blame game’ instead of separating as quickly and amicably as possible.

“The new law introduces a new system of divorce that is entirely fault-free, and introduces new procedure and terminology to make the process of divorce more ‘user-friendly’. In addition, a new online portal will, the government hopes, make paper applications a thing of the past in all but a few rare cases.

“Perhaps even more revolutionary is that separating couples will now have the option to apply jointly if the divorce is consensual, and will also be able to use the same solicitor (although when it comes to resolving finances or matters relating to children, separate solicitors may then have to be instructed).

“The move to a no-fault system also means divorce and civil partnership applications will now be based on identical criteria, eliminating a controversial difference which meant the options for ending a civil partnership were fewer than for a divorce.

“The changes have not been without criticism and, to reassure campaigners on the more conservative side of the debate, the minimum length of time a divorce will take has increased to 26 weeks to allow a period of reflection on the process and enable parties to call a halt to it if they feel divorce is no longer the right route for them.

“These welcome changes have been long awaited by family law practitioners, who are generally hopeful they will bring a range of beneficial new options to our clients and to all couples who are considering separating.”

Furley Page’s large specialist Family Law team has wide-ranging experience in family law and divorce. With offices in Canterbury, Whitstable and Chatham, the firm offers a comprehensive range of family law services to clients all across the South East and further afield. The team are members of Resolution and also includes specialists in collaborative family law.

For more information about Furley Page’s Family Law services, please email Rayma Collins, Head of Furley Page’s Family Law team, at rlc@furleypage.co.uk or call 01227 763939.