No-Fault Divorce Has Arrived!

31 Mar 2022 | Lauren Gaines

Have you heard that breakup rates were exploding during the pandemic? New data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggests this may not be entirely true, since divorce petitions were actually down by 4.5% in 2020 compared to 2019. 

But in practice, the fall in divorce statistics may not mean more people are living happily ever after.

The drop in rates seems to be, in part, due to the general slowing down of the legal system due to Covid-19, which created a significant backlog for the courts. It may also be due to the delayed impact of the pandemic which turned many couples’ lives upside down. Most divorces take six months or longer from the date court proceedings are begun, so it’s likely that any pandemic effect will not be discovered until at least the 2021 figures. 

However, we believe there’s another reason why the 2020 figures may be artificially low. Soon, the law will change to allow ‘no fault’ divorce in England and Wales for the first time. Many couples have been eagerly awaiting the new rules since they’ll be able to divorce more amicably, without playing ‘the blame game’. 

Unreasonable behaviour most common ground for divorce

Under the current law, the only way for couples to divorce without apportioning blame is to wait at least two years (if both partners consent) or five years (if there’s no consent) before issuing divorce proceedings. 

Otherwise, one spouse must show that the other has behaved badly in order to prove that the marriage has irretrievably broken down—either adultery or unreasonable behaviour. The latter can include anything from emotional abuse to financial recklessness or simply refusing to spend time with a partner.   

According to the ONS, unreasonable behaviour was the most common reason for divorce among opposite-sex couples in 2020, accounting for 47.4% of petitions filed by women. Men preferred the more harmonious approach of waiting and relying on two-years separation, although unreasonable behaviour came a close second.

For same-sex couples, unreasonable behaviour accounted for 55.2% of female divorces and 57% of male divorces.

New law ends the blame game  

Under the new no-fault procedure, couples will be able to divorce on the basis that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. They will not have to rely on one of the old blame-based facts. The new rules are widely seen as a game-changer for divorcing couples who often want to take a much more cooperative and non-confrontational approach to ending their marriage, without the mudslinging. 

For separating couples, it can be much harder to focus on the financial arrangements and the needs of the children when they’re forced to argue about who should divorce who and what the allegations of unreasonable behaviour will be. The new law cuts unnecessary conflict from the divorce process, allowing couples to move more amicably towards a separation and focus on what really matters.

As to whether the introduction of no-fault divorce will have any impact on divorce rates, we’ll have to wait and see. Most couples will divorce in any event if their marriage is over, whatever hurdles are put in their way. This doesn’t mean they want all the fighting though.  

How Osbornes Law can help

We specialise in divorce, advising on child arrangement orders, property and financial agreements. Our divorce lawyers are recognised as one of London’s leading teams with a particular emphasis on advising those who have international assets, built up both during the marriage and before and assets that have been inherited.

To speak with a specialist divorce lawyer and to find out more about the new no-fault divorce process, please call Lauren Gaines, or complete an online enquiry below and we will call you back.

Share this article

Contact

Contact Lauren today

For a free initial conversation call 0207 485 8811

Email us Send us an email and we’ll get back to you






    • I would highly recommend Osbornes Law Firm and Lauren Gaines. Her advice and support in dealing with a difficult and emotional legal matter made the process just that bit easier. She is understanding, sensitive, professional, responsive and provided great guidance throughout the process. I'd give her more stars if I could. Excellent Firm.

      Client review

    • “You have done an outstanding job. Thank you so much”

    • “Many thanks for your patience and clear explanations”

    • “It has been great to have your calm and measured guidance over my divorce proceedings and I am most grateful to you for all your help”

    • “It is a pleasure to recommend Lisa Pepper and her team (Lauren Gaines and Sophie Brand) at Osbornes Law for their professionalism and hard work in our case, which was a difficult one and which they brought to a successful outcome."

    • “Osbornes Law provided me with the most professional service that met my requirements every step of the way. Their Solicitor Lauren Gaines supported me at every stage and provided me with solid, helpful and empathetic advice throughout. I would recommend Osbornes Law to anyone should I be asked and even more, so Lauren Gaines. Thanks Osbornes Law and thank you so much Lauren”

    Divorce InsightsVIEW ALL

    1. 6.10.2022

      How to set aside an order in financial...

      My ex-spouse didn’t tell the truth about their finances when we divorced, can anything be done? Can the financial...

      Read more
    2. 30.8.2022

      What are the rules on pension sharing?

      Pensions are one of the biggest assets of a marriage, yet many people are uncertain about whether they are entitled...

      Read more
    3. 30.8.2022

      What is a transfer of equity?

      Transfer of equity in divorce Transfer of equity refers to the process of transferring part or all of a property...

      Read more
    4. 30.8.2022

      5 ways to avoid Court during a divorce

      In 2020, there were 103,592 divorces granted in England and Wales (ONS statistics). The Rt Hon Sir Andrew McFarlane, who is President...

      Read more
    5. 22.8.2022

      Proposed Capital Gains Tax Rule Changes Could Reduce...

      The government has proposed a number of changes to the capital gains tax (CGT) rules which, if enacted, will come...

      Read more
    6. 1.8.2022

      Couples struggling to agree divorce settlements amid cost...

      The cost of living crisis and uncertainty about future mortgage rates are scuppering divorce negotiations as couples fear reaching financial...

      Read more
    7. 30.7.2022

      Elon Musk affair rumours highlight the many benefits...

      Elon Musk hit the headlines recently, denying rumours that he had an affair with the wife of Google cofounder Sergey...

      Read more
    8. 6.5.2022

      My ex has cut me off during divorce

      Unfortunately, it is far too common that when a client says it’s over, their spouse with the “purse strings”...

      Read more
    9. 6.5.2022

      How the Court views loans from parents during...

      A frequent issue in financial divorce cases is a loan from a spouse’s parent, often to pay legal fees,...

      Read more
    10. mesher order house
      5.5.2022

      Mesher Orders Explained

      What is a Mesher order? A Mesher Order allows the sale of the family home to be postponed in a...

      Read more
    11. 11.4.2022

      The End of The Blame Game!

      No-fault divorce will make divorce more amicable  The divorce ‘blame game’ has been consigned to history and the long-awaited reforms...

      Read more
    12. 11.4.2022

      Divorcing couples reaching financial settlement through Private FDR

      The Runaway Advantages of the Private FDR Our specialist lawyers are keen to ensure our divorcing clients achieve cost-effective outcomes...

      Read more
    13. 31.3.2022

      10 Interesting Facts About Same Sex Marriage and Divorce

      Eight years after same-sex marriage was written into law, we’re taking a look at these major life events by...

      Read more
    14. 31.3.2022

      No-Fault Divorce Has Arrived!

      Have you heard that breakup rates were exploding during the pandemic? New data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS)...

      Read more
    15. signing contract
      28.2.2022

      Decree Nisi

      In England and Wales, there are three key stages to the divorce process:  The Divorce Petition The Decree Nisi The...

      Read more
    16. 28.2.2022

      Divorce applications shut down from 31 March 2022

      From last year all divorce petitions in England and Wales were to be submitted to the court using the court...

      Read more
    17. 9.12.2021

      Are irreconcilable differences grounds for divorce?

      If you have come across this article it may have been as a result of an online search to see...

      Read more
    18. 9.12.2021

      Negotiating financial settlements in divorce

      Costly and acrimonious divorces: a lesson in what not to do  If you’re determined to pursue your financial claims...

      Read more
    19. 8.12.2021

      Reasons for divorce. Which is right for us?

      In England and Wales, there is only one legal ground for divorce, which is that the marriage has broken down...

      Read more
    20. squirrel hiding assets
      16.11.2021

      Uncovering hidden assets in your divorce

      Hiding Assets During a Divorce As part of your divorce, you and your ex will have to agree on how...

      Read more
    21. 10.11.2021

      Difference between Decree Nisi and Decree Absolute

      The divorce process will, for many people, mean an introduction to some new terminology.  Two of the most important terms...

      Read more
    22. 9.11.2021

      Keeping social media out of divorce proceedings

      We’ve recently seen the playing out on twitter and Instagram of the high-profile separation of actor Ioan Gruffudd and...

      Read more
    23. 9.11.2021

      I helped build my spouse’s career

      What is the impact on our divorce settlement? It’s been almost two years since The Da Vinci Code author...

      Read more
    24. negotiation
      9.11.2021

      How to speed up a divorce

      6 steps to speed up the divorce process For many people, once they have made the decision that their marriage is...

      Read more

    VIEW ALL