No-fault divorce comes to England and Wales


Couples wanting to divorce in England and Wales will no longer have to blame the other party when a new law comes into effect in April. Scotland has a different legal system and already had “no-fault” divorce. (When it comes to law, the UK is not one country.) Here in South Africa, there are three grounds for divorce: irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, mental illness, and continuous unconsciousness (the last is very rare). One of the circumstances that can be used as evidence of marital breakdown is separation for a continued period of at least a year. On the face of it, this is “no-fault”, but the difference is that one person must still bring the divorce action against the other. One is the plaintiff, and the other is the defendant. The new law in England and Wales allows couples to start a divorce jointly. This has the potential, as has already been seen in Scotland, to reduce acrimony and allow the divorce to proceed more smoothly.

While we can’t change the law in South Africa, we can help you divorce with dignity and with as little rancour as possible. We will help negotiate a divorce that is fair, right for your family and secures your future, both financially and emotionally. If you were married in the UK and now live in South Africa, or vice versa, international divorce law may apply to your circumstances. To find out more about “expat divorce“, contact Simon now.

The following article was reprinted from You Magazine – 2022-01-05. We thought you might find it interesting. 

Why the notorious ‘Divorce Day’ could be different in 2022

It has long been known that divorce enquiries spike straight after the festive season. As the stress of the festive period exacerbates couples to the point of no return, it has led to the notorious ‘Divorce Day’ – the date that the most couples file for divorce out of the whole year.

The so-called Divorce Day traditionally occurs on the first working day of January, however this year experts believe it may fall in April instead.

This is because on 6 April 2022, a new no-fault divorce bill will become law. The legislation states that either party of a marriage can request a divorce without having to cite blame. Currently, couples can only be granted a divorce if one of five established factors can be named as the cause of the marriage’s irreversible breakdown: unreasonable behaviour, adultery, five years of separation without consent, two years of separation with consent or desertion.

But in April, this will all change with the arrival of the no-fault divorce bill in England and Wales. ‘It’s the biggest reform to divorce law in 50 years and will mark a moment in history,’ Kate Daly, founder of online divorce service Amicable, told The Independent.

‘The new legislation is hugely welcome as it allows couples to divorce together without having to cite blame. Under the new law, couples can jointly start their divorce, and state the reason as “no-fault”.’

Lawyers say that the new law will potentially make the divorce process less stressful for some couples.

‘For most people seeking a divorce is going to be a very stressful and scary time in their life and having to relive memories and provide reasons for divorce can make the situation even more stressful,’ Dal Heran, a family lawyer, told The Independent.

‘Therefore, having new legal grounds for divorce, which mean an individual can remove any blame from the divorce and divorce solely on the basis that their marriage has broken down can help make the divorce more amicable and reduce stress.’

Let Cape Town Family Lawyers help

We have helped many clients reach a divorce settlement with their dignity intact. We have particular expertise in foreign divorce and will navigate the complexities for you. If you would like to talk to someone in confidence about divorce give Simon a call on +27 (0) 86 099 5146 or email  Simon Dippenaar & Associates Inc. is a Cape Town law firm with expertise in family law.

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The information on this website is provided to assist the reader with a general understanding of the law. While we believe the information to be factually accurate, and have taken care in our preparation of these pages, these articles cannot and do not take individual circumstances into account and are not a substitute for personal legal advice. If you have a legal matter that concerns you, please consult a qualified attorney. Simon Dippenaar & Associates takes no responsibility for any action you may take as a result of reading the information contained herein (or the consequences thereof), in the absence of professional legal advice.

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