No grounds needed in no-fault divorce

8th March 2015 by


In March 2012, a leading family law judge voiced his support for divorce law reform. Sir Nicholas Wall called for the Government to allow ‘no-fault divorce’ in which a couple could dissolve their marriage without one party being forced to accept blame for the relationship’s breakdown.

Divorce solicitors in Brighton, London and throughout the UK largely welcomed the renewed effort to achieve a change in English and Welsh Family Law.

The argument for ‘no-fault divorce’

Speaking at an annual conference for Resolution, the family lawyers association Sir Nicholas, President of the Family Division, spoke out about the changes in society, where divorce is no longer seen as shameful. He said there were no good arguments in defence of keeping the law as it stands and not allowing ‘no-fault divorces’ to become available.

He stated that divorce had become an “administrative” procedure rather than a judicial question of whether a marriage had irretrievably broken down. He added that spouses no longer felt it was important to prove that they were the innocent party in a divorce and that current legislation was rooted in history where being the wronged party, and consequently not at fault, was a matter of importance since a divorce could affect social status.

He said, “All that, I think, has gone. Defended divorces are now effectively unheard of.”

Just days later, in ruling on a case in the Court of Appeal where a woman had challenged the court in granting a decree nisi to her husband, Lord Justice Thorpe echoed Sir Nicholas’s stance.

In overruling the appeal, he said he felt sadness that the details of the couple’s marriage were required to be analysed in such a “painful” manner and that the woman’s “complete inability” to accept the breakdown of the relationship was lamentable. However, there was only one realistic outcome in the case, and that was that the husband would be allowed to apply for the decree absolute.

The notion of “no-fault divorce” in English and Welsh family law was first mooted as part of the Family Law Act 1996, however, it was not taken up as many religious groups and pro-family organisations argued that it weakened the position of marriage as an institution because it would become too easy for couples to split up.

Yet, many divorce solicitors believe that the process of instigating a dissolution of marriage by apportioning blame, as per the Five Facts, leads to a heightened emotional negative for spouses which can lead to a greater likelihood of dispute in the subsequent areas of settlement such as children arrangements and sharing of property.

The notion of blame in these respects is then, in most cases, firmly disregarded as all aspects of settlement must be seen as apportioning equality and fairness, and this is naturally confusing and out of step with the law regarding divorce.

Sir Nicholas told the assembly of family lawyers, “As a student, of course, I grew up with the three Cs &ndash- connivance, collusion and condonation. All those have gone.

“It seems to me, therefore, that the time for no fault divorce has also come.”

Healys divorce solicitors in Brighton and London

For expert, yet sensitive advice and representation regarding all matters of divorce and family law, the team at Healys LLP are here to help.

Whether you have reached a point in your relationship where you are considering making an application for divorce, or you have achieved dissolution, but feel you need legal representation to make a suitable financial claim, Healys divorce solicitors can listen to your circumstances and offer legal advice to help you protect your best interests.

If you wish to speak to a divorce solicitor in Brighton please call 01273 685 888 or email an enquiry to

Alternatively the family law team in London can be reached on 020 7822 4000. We look forward to helping you.