No fault divorce set for 2021

We have been reporting on the progress of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill which would see no fault divorce become law. This Bill has now passed through the final stages in the House of Commons and now will return to the House of Lords for final amendments before being given royal assent.

However couples who are seeking a no-fault divorce will have to wait until at least autumn 2021 before this becomes available to use.

Lord chancellor Robert Buckland has made it clear that the bill’s reforms will not come into force on Royal assent ‘because time needs to be allowed for careful implementation.’ 

However, family lawyers are delighted to see the bill reach the end of its parliamentary journey.

Jo Edwards, former head of Resolution, the umbrella organisation of family practitioners who have been campaigning for no-fault divorce for 30 years, commented on the news by saying, ‘The fact that couples will be able to petition for divorce jointly is a hugely important step symbolically and the introduction of a minimum overall timeframe shows that this is not the “quickie divorce” that some have suggested.  Because the detail of the rules around the new process, as well as court forms and the online portal, will need to be looked at in light of the new legislation, it is not likely that no fault divorces will be a reality in England and Wales until late 2021 or even early 2022. For the 100,000 or so couples who divorce each year, they can’t come a day too soon.’

It is important to note that the removal of fault based arguments will not change the speed of the divorce process. The same procedural steps of filing a petition, obtaining the court’s permission to divorce and obtaining the final divorce decree will still be the same and take on average 4-6 months to complete if using the online filing process.

Amanda Erskine is a solicitor in the Family department at Barker Gotelee Suffolk Solicitors.

Ipswich Family Solicitors – for more information on our range of legal services, please call the team on 01473 611211 or email