‘No fault’ divorce delay revealed

To the dismay of separating couples and the legal profession, implementation of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act has been delayed until 6 April 2022, to allow sufficient time for the digital arm of the service to be developed and tested.

Law Society of England and Wales president I. Stephanie Boyce said: “‘No fault’ divorce was due to come in this autumn so we are disappointed about this delay to what is after all a key moment in bringing the law up to date.”

According to the Office for National Statistics, 107,599 opposite sex and 822 same sex couples divorced in England and Wales in 2019.*

I. Stephanie Boyce added: “Under the current divorce system – unchanged for over 50 years – separating couples either have to prove a fault-based fact against their ex-partner or spend years still married to obtain a divorce which only exacerbates tensions.

“For separating parents, this process can make it much harder to focus on the needs of their children.

“‘No fault’ divorce will cut unnecessary conflict from the separation process – allowing couples to move on as amicably as possible and focus on what really matters.

“While we’re disappointed at the delay to the reforms, we welcome the continued commitment to ensuring the reforms are fit for purpose. It is better to have a working system in place rather than forging ahead when there are known issues.

“We call on HM Courts and Tribunal Service (HMCTS) to use this delay to ensure the digital platform is fully functional and that issues affecting the online service, such as the recent ‘bug’ in the represented respondent journey, are promptly rectified.

“We urge HMCTS to communicate clearly with the profession when there are issues with the digital service, outlining how it will fix any bugs in order to avoid delay. HMCTS must also ensure that there are fully developed and clearly understood contingency plans in place.

“We look forward to welcoming the implementation of ‘no fault divorce’ in April 2022 and hope the system will be fully operational for divorcing couples and their solicitors who will use the system.”

Notes to editors

Read junior minister for the Ministry of Justice Chris Philp’s statement on the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020

*Read the Office for National Statistics data for England and Wales

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