Legal Eagle Column: No fault divorce – what does it really mean?

Iain MacAskill, Family Law Solicitor at Neves Solicitors, explains.

Most of you will be aware of the growing campaign and bill going through parliament at the moment for “no fault divorce”. The introduction of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation bill is soon going to be made law.

With the suspension of parliament and dare we say it Brexit, we are not sure when this will be.

Present Divorce Law:
Under the present Divorce Law, you have to satisfy the court that your marriage has irretrievably broken down and you do that by relying on one of 5 facts.

Three are to do with how long you have been separated, these are 2 years separation with consent, 2 years desertion and 5 years.

The other two facts are fault based; adultery or unreasonable behaviour.

The change:
The change in the law will mean that parties will no longer have to attribute blame to their partner to obtain a divorce where they haven’t been separated long enough.

The divorce petition will merely say that the marriage has irretrievably broken down and this will be sufficient for a judge to say you are entitled to a divorce. The move is believed to reduce conflict in family breakdown.

The reality:
The bill will allow couples to get divorced more easily but it is unlikely to be quicker given the crisis currently facing the family court system with delays and cuts to funding.

The emotional pain and stress of divorce proceedings is not going to change. The parties are still going to feel emotional pain and point blame.

There will still be conflict between parties and matters to resolve which you may not feel you can handle yourself.

The rise of the DIY divorce:

Many couples will attempt the divorce process themselves. It is important that you take legal advice from a family law specialist before you start the process to understand the impact of the divorce.

Divorce overlooked:
Some of the things overlooked by couples who start divorce proceedings without legal advice are as follows:
1. Applying for the decree absolute affects inheritance, pensions and life policies
2. Issuing divorce proceedings does not deal with the financial claims you have against one another; you are going to need a Financial Order
3. The importance of making a will

Want to find out how Neves can help you? Contact Iain MacAskill on 01908 304560 or email

This feature was published in the November 2019 issue of Celebrate:MK lifestyle magazine. Read the full magazine above or by clicking on this link.

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