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The Pros and Cons of No-Fault Divorce

Our People - Loretta Orsi-Barzanti
22 December, 2022

The introduction of no-fault divorce in the UK marked a significant change in the way that couples can end their marriages. No-fault divorce allows couples to obtain a divorce without the need to prove fault or wrongdoing by either party. This can make the process of obtaining a divorce simpler and less contentious, but it also has some potential disadvantages for couples to consider before deciding whether it is the right option for them.

In this article, we will explore the pros and cons of no-fault divorce in the UK to help you understand the potential advantages and disadvantages compared to the old law.

7 Key Benefits of a No Fault Divorce

  1. Simplicity
  2. Speed
  3. Increased privacy
  4. Reduced conflict
  5. Cost savings
  6. More time to reconsider options
  7. Helping victims of domestic abuse

1. Simplicity

No-fault divorce allows couples to obtain a divorce without the need to outline the bad behaviour of their spouse or prove fault. This can make the process of obtaining a divorce simpler and less contentious, as the parties do not have to engage in any legal battles to prove who is at fault. It is also less traumatic as you no longer have to give any reasons why the marriage has broken down.

Before no fault divorce law, if there wasn’t a “behaviour” aspect, you would need to be separated for a minimum of two years to get a divorce. As this is no longer a requirement, it is now much simpler to get a divorce as you do not have to remain married for 2 years (but separated).

2. Speed

No-fault divorce may be faster to obtain than under the previous divorce rules because it does not require the parties to go through a lengthy legal process to prove fault. This can be beneficial for couples who want to move on with their lives as quickly as possible.  If there is no negative behaviour in the marriage, it also means that you do not have to be separated (while still married) for a period of time before you are able to get a divorce.

3. Increased Privacy

No-fault divorce can be more private because it does not require the parties to air their dirty laundry in court. This can be beneficial for couples who want to keep the details of their divorce private, especially if there are sensitive or personal matters involved.

4. Reduced Conflict

No-fault divorce can help to reduce conflict between the parties because it does not require the need to provide evidence or a statement outlining the bad behaviour of their spouse. This can make the divorce process less contentious and more peaceful, as the parties do not have to engage in legal battles to prove fault.

5. Cost Savings

No-fault divorce may be less expensive than a traditional divorce because it minimises the amount of solicitor correspondence associated with agreeing the contents of the divorce application. There is now very little that needs to go into the divorce application apart from your personal details, the details of the marriage and confirmation that the marriage has broken down.

It is very difficult to defend a divorce application under the new no-fault divorce laws than it was previously. Defences to divorce now involve legal technicalities rather than contesting the grounds for divorce based on the contents of the application. This can make the divorce process less contentious and more efficient, potentially saving couples time and money in legal fees.

6. More Time to Reconsider Options

Under the new no-fault divorce laws in the UK, there is a minimum waiting period of 20 weeks between the application being issued and being able to apply for the conditional order and a further 6 weeks and 1 day between the conditional order and Final Order.  This is a longer period than under the old rules. This gives couples the opportunity for additional time to consider their options and potentially reconcile before moving forward with the divorce. This may be beneficial for couples who are not yet certain that they want to end their marriage and want to explore the possibility of reconciliation before moving forward with the divorce process.

7. Helping Victims of Domestic Abuse

No-fault divorce law aims to make the divorce process less hostile and more efficient for victims of domestic abuse. Previously, individuals seeking a divorce in the UK had to provide a statement outlining their spouse’s unreasonable behaviour before they could commence divorce proceedings. This requirement could be particularly difficult for victims of domestic abuse, as it could force them to confront their trauma and potentially face retaliation from their abuser. The new no-fault divorce process allows individuals to obtain a divorce without the need to prove fault or wrongdoing by their spouse, which may help to reduce conflict and protect the mental health of all parties involved, including children.

Potential Disadvantages of a No Fault Divorce

  • Lack of accountability
  • Limited legal remedies to defend the divorce
  • Longer minimum waiting period

Lack of accountability

A potential disadvantage of no-fault divorce is that neither party is held accountable for the breakdown of the marriage. This may be frustrating for individuals who feel that their spouse’s behaviour or actions played a significant role in the breakdown of the marriage. In a no-fault divorce, the parties can simply state that the marriage has irretrievably broken down and move forward with the divorce process.

Limited Legal Remedies to Defend the Divorce

Under the new no-fault divorce laws in the UK, the courts have fewer legal remedies available to them to prevent a divorce from proceeding. The only defences to divorce now involve legal technicalities based on the validity of the marriage, making it far more difficult to defend a divorce application than it was previously. While this can make the divorce process more efficient, it also means that individuals may have fewer options to contest the divorce if they wish to do so.

Longer Minimum Waiting Period

Under the new no-fault divorce laws in the UK, a minimum waiting period of 20 weeks between the application being issued and being able to apply for the conditional order and a further 6 weeks and 1 day between the conditional order and Final Order.  This is a longer period than under the old rules. This may not be suitable for couples who want to finalize their divorce more quickly.

While this is not a direct disadvantage of no fault divorce, processing times by UK courts have increased substantially due to the increase in divorces (which is believed to be as a consequence of the new no-fault divorce), meaning divorcing couples have to wait longer for applications to be processed.

It is important to keep in mind that these pros and cons may not apply in every case and that no-fault divorce may not be the right option for every couple. It is always a good idea to consult with a divorce solicitor to understand your all the options available to you, along with the potential advantages and disadvantages of each.

If you need any help or advice on no fault divorce in the UK or on matter relating to the divorce process, please feel free to contact our specialist Divorce Lawyers on 020 8492 2290.

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