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Articles Family Law 15th Dec 2023

“Auld Lang Syne”: A fresh start using no fault divorce. The family law 12 days of Christmas – day 9

As we turn our calendars to December, and we can finally start getting into the Christmas spirit, our family law solicitors Alex Haworth and Gemma Nicholls-Webber share several of their favourite family law topics with a festive twist.

Over the first 12 working days of December, they’ll be giving their family law version of the 12 songs of Christmas, where they’ll cover a wide range of questions or issues that often arise when dealing with family law matters…


“Auld Lang Syne”: A fresh start using no fault divorce.

Last year, the divorce process was finally brought into this century by creating “no-fault divorce”, but over 18 months later I regularly speak to people who aren’t sure what it means. Here are my answers to some frequently asked questions.

What evidence is needed of the other spouse’s behaviour?

Before 6 April 2022, we had an unnecessarily adversarial fault-based system. To get a divorce without having to wait for 2 years, one person had to detail the other’s adultery or list examples of their unreasonable behaviour to show that the marriage had irretrievably broken down, even couples still communicating well.

Despite our best efforts as family lawyers to take heat out of this, it still unnecessarily inflamed the situation from the start, leading to unnecessary financial and emotional costs. It was also unhelpful for everything else that must be dealt with, like finances and child arrangements. There are better ways to raise unacceptable behaviour, which I discuss with clients as part of strategy.

Since 6 April 2022, under the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020, only a declaration to court that the marriage has irretrievably broken down is needed.

Can a spouse defend a divorce?

The case of Owens v Owens made headlines in 2018 when, in the highest court in the country, Mr Owens successfully defended Mrs Owen’s divorce, alleging their marriage was not over despite her views about it. It shocked the public, providing catalyst for change.

The new system provides only very limited circumstances for defending divorce. These include the court not having jurisdiction, marriage being invalid, or fraud and/or procedural non-compliance.

What is the divorce process?

There is now a nationwide digital application system (although we have to hope the backlogs in it will be improved as it develops).

Alex summarised the process in her earlier post in this series.

Every day we guide clients needing advice through the divorce process as well as dealing with any financial matters and arrangements for children to achieve the best outcome for their family.


If you or anyone you know would appreciate advice on getting a no-fault divorce, or any of the other topics we have covered in our 12 songs of Christmas, please contact Alex Haworth or Gemma Nicholls-Webber.


The content of this page is a summary of the law in force at the date of publication and is not exhaustive, nor does it contain definitive advice. Specialist legal advice should be sought in relation to any queries that may arise.
Gemma Nicholls-Webber

Author: Gemma Nicholls-Webber

Managing Associate

Author: Alexandra Haworth

Senior Associate

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