No-Fault Divorce Process ǀ Waldrons Solicitors

How to Get a No Fault Divorce

The no fault divorce came into effect on 6th April 2022 in England and Wales and replaced the previous divorce system. It applies to both marriages and civil partnerships. Provided you’ve been married for more than a year and are domiciled in England or Wales, then you can apply for a no fault divorce, even if you were married overseas or are not a British citizen.

To apply for a no fault divorce:

  •  One or both parties complete an application to give notice that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.
  • After a 20-week “reflection period”, if the applicant(s) decide that they wish to proceed with the divorce, they can apply to the court for a Conditional Order.
  • Six weeks after the Conditional Order has been granted by the court, the applicant(s) confirm they would like the marriage to end, and the court can make a Final Order.

Although it seems straightforward on paper, getting a divorce is a significant decision that can have wide-reaching implications for you and your family. Seek advice from a specialist family law solicitor to support you through the process and help you to achieve the best possible outcome.

What is a No Fault Divorce?

A no fault divorce allows a spouse to end their marriage without the need to ‘blame’ the other party or their behaviour, there is simply ‘no-fault’. It removes the need to evidence bad behaviour in order to file for divorce. An application can be made solely, or jointly. It reduces tension at an already tense time as couples do not have to blame one another in order to get divorced.

What is The Timescale for a No Fault Divorce?

Divorce proceedings can take approximately 6 months provided parties fully co-operate. Financial matters are usually resolved during divorce proceedings, which can increase the timescale for divorce proceedings.

What is the Difference Between a No Fault Divorce and a Regular Divorce?

A No-Fault Divorce is the new Regular Divorce.

Until the changes introduced in 2022, divorce proceedings had not changed since 1973 and required you to show one of the following:

  • Your spouse had committed adultery.
  • Your spouse had conducted themselves in a way that meant it was unreasonable to expect you to live with them any longer.
  • You’d been separated for at least two years and the other person agreed to divorce.
  • You’d been separated for at least five years or
  • Your spouse had deserted you for at least two years.

The reasons cited for seeking a divorce could often lead to confrontation, making an already emotionally charged situation even more challenging to resolve.

The no fault divorce removes the need to evidence one of these reasons for a divorce. Instead, you, either individually or jointly with your spouse, provide a statement to confirm that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.

In addition, the language used in divorce proceedings has been updated:

  • The “divorce petition” is now known as an “application”.
  • The “divorce petitioner” is an “applicant”.
  • The “Decree Nisi” is now the “Conditional Order” and
  • The “Decree Absolute” is now the “Final Order”.

The no fault divorce introduces a 20-week “reflection period” and includes a six-week “cooling off period”, which enables the couple to take time to consider if divorce is the right path for them. It now takes a minimum of six months to finalise a divorce.

Why has the Law Changed?

The no-fault divorce process was introduced in order to avoid unnecessary animosity between a couples as, previously, fault had to be alleged to begin the divorce process. Prior to the no-fault divorce process, the ‘blame game’ cultivated reluctance to negotiate and work together to try and resolve related issues such as finances and arrangements for the children. In turn, this would have inevitably have significantly increased legal costs. As such, the new process allows for a more amicable approach, encouraging moving forwards and working together, as well as potentially saving money.

What is the No-Fault Divorce Process?

The no-fault divorce process has been streamlined to become more straightforward, although this is not to say that divorces will become ‘quickie divorces’. The typical steps involved in the process can be found in a step-by-step guide below.

Step 1: Consult a Family Law Expert

Starting divorce proceedings is a big decision and can be overwhelming. A consultation with a member of our family team, will provide the necessary information for you to form a decision on the next steps and tailored advice on how to best achieve your wishes. This advice is particularly important where children and finances are involved.

Step 2: The Divorce Application

If you wish to begin divorce proceedings, we will draft the divorce application and lodge it on the court portal. You can make a sole application or a joint application with your former spouse if you both agree that the marriage has ended. Where financial matters or arrangements for children must be resolved, the proceedings for this cannot be done jointly and separate solicitors must be instructed. 

Step 3: Waiting for the Divorce to be Issued

Your application is then processed by the court. This step usually takes around two to four weeks but can vary. Once the application has been processed, the court will issue the papers.

Step 4: Acknowledgement

Once the court issues the papers, in joint applications, both applicants are required to complete an online acknowledgement of service. In sole applications, a copy is sent to the Respondent online and they are asked to complete the acknowledgement within 14 days.

Step 5: 20 Week Reflection Period

You must then wait 20 weeks from when your divorce application was issued before any further advancements can be made in the divorce process. In this time, it is best to resolve any financial matters or arrangements for children, a divorce dissolves the marriage but it does not resolve these.

Step 6: Conditional Order

Once the 20 week period has passed, we are able to apply for the Conditional Order (previously called a decree nisi). This order confirms that you are legally entitled to a divorce. If the court approve your divorce, they will issue a Certificate of Entitlement. This step takes around two to four weeks.

Step 7: 6 Week ‘Cooling Off’ Period

After the Conditional Order has been pronounced, you enter a six-week ‘cooling off’ period. This step allows couples to ‘cool off’ to ensure they truly wish to dissolve their marriage.

 Step 8: Final Order

Six weeks and one day after the date of the Conditional Order has been pronounced, we can apply for the Final Order (previously called a decree absolute). This order dissolves your marriage and brings the divorce process to an end.

Contact Us

Before deciding what to do it is always best to obtain legal advice, this will enable you to make an informed decision about your future. We have specialist Family Law lawyers who can give you the advice you need to make the right decision for you. Please contact us on 01384 811 811 or email

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