A year on from no-fault divorce – What impact has it had?

On 6 April 2022, the Divorce, Dissolution and Separations Act came into effect, taking away the requirement of assigning blame within a divorce and allowing couples to apply jointly to begin the process.

This change was years in the making, with campaigners calling for reforms to make the process of divorce smoother and more amicable for couples who are divorcing.

Conversely, many feared that the new rules would lead to a spike in divorce cases. Now new data shows that an increase in cases has occurred, along with other trends in the way couples separate.

HM Courts & Tribunals Service had an increase of 50 per cent in divorce applications the week after the reforms were introduced, with 3,000 applications received.

It is thought that many couples held off on their application, knowing that the law was changing.

So far, family lawyers have found that the change has meant the process is a lot less hostile for many, with discussions beginning on a more positive footing as no blame has been allocated for the divorce.

Instead, the focus is on children and financial arrangements and these decisions can be made more constructively and with less chance of needing to go to court.

22 per cent of the divorce applications under the new law were reported to be joint applications but some have expressed surprise at the low take-up overall and believe a reduced fee could help.

Some legal experts have shown concern over the reforms as DIY divorce is not encouraged and can often result in a longer and more expensive process for those involved.

Joint applications have been mistaken by some as making the process easy and quick when divorce is still a complicated issue which requires expert legal advice and will be a lengthy process when done correctly.

Going forward, the law surrounding finance on divorce is expected to be reviewed but any changes will likely not happen for another two years minimum.

For help and advice with family and relationship matters, please get in touch with Alison Green, Head of our Family and Relationship Team at Mackrell.Solicitors on +44 (0) 20 7240 0521 or at alison.green@mackrell.com

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Alison Green
Alison has more than 25 years’ experience assisting clients with Family and Relationship matters. Her expertise covers matrimonial work, including divorce and the associated financial and children issues; pre and post-nuptial agreements; co-habitation disputes; civil partnership agreements and the breakdown of civil partnerships.