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England No-Fault Divorce Law: Here's all You need to Know about The no Blame Divorce Law

After the No-fault divorce legislation took effect in England and Wales, married couples in England and Wales will be free to begin divorce proceedings without accusing one other.
For the first time in 50 years, England's divorce laws have been amended, putting an end to the 'blame game' that couples used to play while seeking a divorce.

Experts have praised the new rule, which went into force on April 6, claiming that it will assist couples in moving forward. They also believe that the new law will assist couples in achieving the greatest results, reducing unneeded friction and anxiety.

The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020

The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 (c. 11) is an act of the United Kingdom Parliament that alters existing divorce laws in England and Wales to allow for no-fault divorce and it came into effect on 6 April 2022.

In the case of Owens v. Owens[1], the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom upheld a dismissal of a divorce petition in 2018.

After she lost a Supreme Court battle in 2018, failing to persuade the judges that her 40-year marriage should terminate, the case of Owens v. Owens sparked a movement for reform. Her husband disputed her allegations of unreasonable behaviour, and the judges determined that being stuck in an unpleasant marriage was not enough to justify divorce.

The Divorce, Dissolution, and Separation Act (2020) is the most significant change in divorce law in more than 50 years. It eliminates the need for separating couples to assign blame for their marriage's demise, allowing them to concentrate on important practical concerns such as raising their children or managing their money, as well as planning for the future.

Previously, one spouse had to accuse the other of 'unreasonable behaviour' or infidelity, or face years of separation before a divorce could be granted. This was true whether or not a couple had mutually decided to divorce.

The amendments mean that a partner, or a couple, can now file for divorce by claiming that their marriage has irreversibly broken down. It avoids unneeded pointing of fingers and acrimony at a time when emotions are already running high, and it protects children from seeing their parents sling mud.

Importantly, it prevents one person from waging a nasty divorce battle and trapping their spouse in an unpleasant marriage. Domestic abusers can occasionally utilise their abilities to disrupt the process, causing further harm to their victims or trapping them in the relationship. This behaviour will be put to an end as a result of the reforms.

The Act also establishes a new 20-week minimum timeframe between the initiation of proceedings and the filing of a conditional decree of divorce. If reconciliation is not possible, this will give you time to reflect and potentially turn back, or to agree on key future arrangements, such as those affecting children, finances, and property.

Meaning of 'no-fault divorce'

The most common sort of divorce in today's society is no-fault divorce. Traditionally, a person applying for divorce had to show that their spouse had committed some kind of violation that violated the marriage contract � cruelty, adultery, and desertion are classic examples of grounds for a fault divorce. No-fault divorces, on the other hand, do not require proof of misconduct.

Rather, the filing spouse simply argues that the couple cannot get along and that the marriage has genuinely broken down as grounds for divorce. Depending on the state, incompatibility, irreconcilable differences between the spouses or irreversible marriage dissolution may be utilised. In states that allow both types of divorce, there may be strategic reasons to choose one over the other. In a no-fault divorce, the filing spouse initiates the process unilaterally, and the other spouse has no right to oppose. However, depending on the state, no-fault divorces may require the spouse to have lived apart for a certain amount of time before filing.

The no-fault divorce law eliminates the "blame game, allowing divorcing spouses to concentrate on "important practical decisions relating to their children and their finances. The new regulation prevents youngsters from witnessing their parents flinging dirt at a time when emotions are already running high. The new law will assist couples in achieving the greatest results, reducing unneeded friction and anxiety and at the same time it also contributes to a slew of social issues, including rising divorce rates, increased negative marital conduct and domestic violence, and the abolition of the traditional marriage paradigm of mutual interdependence.

  1. 2018 UKSC 41
Written By: Aditya Raj -B.A.LL.B (H) -2019-2024, Central University of South Bihar

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