Family & Divorce

Has no-fault divorce made applications easier as divorce applications are at a 10 year high?

On the 6th of April 2022 the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 came into force introducing ‘no-fault’ divorce. This allowed couples to divorce without the need for blame on one party.

01 Nov 2022

Team name
Callie Nimki

Callie Nimki

What is no-fault divorce?


Previously when divorcing, couples had to show that their marriage had irretrievably broken down by showing one of the ‘five grounds of divorce’. The five grounds were:

  • adultery
  • unreasonable behaviour
  • desertion
  • living apart for at least two years with consent
  • living apart for at least five years without consent

The new reform removed the requirement for these grounds meaning couples no longer need to cite one of them in their application for divorce.

There have been additional changes to the law of divorce including the divorce petition can no longer be contested. This means that the party applying cannot be forced to stay married to the other against their wishes.  Joint applications can also be made under the new system so therefore it is no longer required that one party make the initial proceedings.

Finally, the traditional terminology has changed. A more modern approach was adopted to change the names for the parties involved in the proceedings and for the orders issued. Under the old law, the previous wording used was petitioner which has now been modernised to ‘applicant’. The Decree Nisi is now known as the Conditional Order and the Decree Absolute is known as the Final Order.

Rise in applications since the new reform


From 6th of April 2022, 33,234 divorce applications have been made under the new law and of the applications made 78% were from sole applicants and 22% from joint applicants. The large majority of the applicants still came from sole applicants despite the change in the law to allow joint applications.

For digital divorce cases, there were 32,972 petitions made from April to June 2022, which is a 72% increase from the same period in 2021. 99% of applications under the new law were made digitally, whilst 89% of the applications under the old law were made digitally in that time frame.

The ease and accessibility of the new reforms has shown an increase in applications. The introduction of joint applications has shown smaller figures with only 22% of applications coming from joint applicants and the vast majority still coming from single applicants.

M&P Commentary

Callie Nimki, Trainee Solicitor in the Family team, said:

“Despite these new reforms arguably making the divorce process easier, it is still very important to obtain professional legal advice from a family law solicitor to ensure things such as financial matters are dealt with properly at the time of divorce.”


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