No-fault, quickie and collaborative divorce – New terms explained

7th March 2015 by


British newspapers, especially the tabloids, love to report on the relationship breakdowns and splits suffered by celebrity couples. They also have a penchant for using terms like “quickie divorce” without really understanding that there is no such thing and, while they love to report on the messy ones, the calm and understated splits, such as those conducted quietly under collaborative divorce procedure in Brighton or London, often go unreported – probably largely due to their less than sensationalist nature.

Americanisms are not applicable in English and Welsh family law
In North America, in most states, couples are allowed to get divorced on the basis that it was not either spouse’s direct fault, and this is known as a “no-fault divorce”.

Many American news reports (and some ill-informed British ones) will suggest that UK couples are able to dissolve their marriage under such a status. However, in English and Welsh family law all marriages are ended under the tenet that they have “broken down irretrievably” with that breakdown being proven in one of five ways – the five facts:

  • That the other party has committed adultery;
  • That the other party has behaved in a way that is unreasonable;
  • That the parties have lived apart for at least two years and they both agree to a divorce;
  • One party has deserted the other for at least two years;
  • The parties have lived apart for at least five years.

All couples must wait until they have been married for 12 months before they can present a divorce petition to the family court, so, it is reasonable to suggest, that the most innocuous way to get divorced without truly having to wave the finger of blame would mean that a couple would have to be married for at least two years and that they would have to have separated immediately after the wedding for this to be conceivable.

So, if a starlet couple marries and their union lasts only three months before they officially separate, but they want to conduct a divorce without actually citing a fault reason for the breakdown then they would be able to petition for a divorce two years and three months after the date of the wedding.

If the couple wanted to have their marriage dissolved any earlier then the petitioning spouse would have to cite that the other party had either committed adultery or had behaved in “such a way that the petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with the respondent”.

All divorces are subject to family court criteria and timescales, and even the hottest celebrity in the land cannot skip the procedural elements of divorce in order to achieve dissolution more quickly than any other couple. So, the “quickie divorce” is merely a journalistic fabrication, often quoted in the press, used when a couple appear to wish to extricate themselves from a marriage as soon as possible.

Collaborative divorce is perfect for couples who don’t want to hit the headlines
Whenever the divorce is commenced, and under whichever grounds, if the couple can’t agree on the terms for a divorce financial settlement or arrangements for any children of the union then it is likely that these issues may mean that the couple will be forced to appear in court.

However, this is not a contested divorce. The divorce itself deals only with the legal dissolution, or ending, of the marriage and the ties that this institution commands. In many cases a couple who appear in court to argue over ownership of the matrimonial home or levels of lump sum payments have usually been legally divorced for some time.

A contested divorce will occur only when one spouse, usually the respondent, objects to the divorce itself or the ground for divorce, such as an accusation of adultery or unreasonable behaviour.

Yet, it is the financial arrangements, and those related to children, which cause most emotional difficulty and have the propensity to cause the bitter acrimony which tabloid publications seem to relish.

By choosing a collaborative divorce, spouses, and their specially trained collaborative divorce lawyers, agree to negotiate all the details of the settlement by using a round-table format for discussions which ultimately aims to avoid the necessity for court appearances. All parties to the divorce sign an agreement, at the outset, which details their commitment to approaching the proceedings in a non-confrontational, mutually beneficial and respectful way.

Collaborative divorce with Healys family lawyers in London and Brighton
Healys’ specialist collaborative divorce solicitors in London and Brighton are dedicated to resolving divorce and civil partnership dissolution disputes with respect, sensitivity and understanding.

We approach all family issues with an amicable, constructive and conciliatory view, yet strive to ensure that our clients’ interests and those of their children come first.

For more information on the service we provide, please contact Catherine Taylor on 01273 669 124 or email for Brighton. For London please contact Jane Sanders on 020 7822 4107 or email