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No fault divorce

There is no immediate ‘no fault’ divorce under the law of England and Wales.

The sole ground upon which a divorce may be granted is that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. However, this can only be established by proving one of the following five facts:

  • that the respondent has committed adultery and the petitioner finds it intolerable to live with the respondent;
  • that the respondent has behaved in such a way that the petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with the respondent;
  • that the respondent has deserted the petitioner for a continuous period of at least two years immediately preceding the presentation of the petition;
  • that the parties to the marriage have lived apart for a continuous period of at least two years immediately preceding the presentation of the petition and the respondent consents to a decree being granted;
  • that the parties to the marriage have lived apart for a continuous period of at least five years immediately preceding the presentation of the petition.

The nearest option to a ‘no fault’ divorce is therefore either two years’ separation with the respondent’s consent, or five years’ separation. These grounds are comparatively uncommon in practice, given the time requirements that they impose.

In practice, therefore, most people are obliged to cite some element of fault in their petition.

The information on this website is intended as a guide and does not constitute legal advice. Vardags do not accept liability for any errors in the information on this website, nor any losses stemming from reliance upon the statements made herein. All articles and pages aim to reflect the legal position at time they were published, and may have been rendered obsolete by subsequent developments in the law. Should you require specialist advice, tailored to your situation, please see how Vardags can help you.