How Has the Change in Divorce Law Affected the Process in England and Wales?

It’s been almost a year since the change to Divorce, Dissolution, and Separation Act 2020 was passed in England and Wales, changing the landscape of the divorce process as of April 2022. With a shift from “fault-based” divorce to “no-fault” divorce, the legal system has become more compassionate towards separating couples.

But how has it really affected the divorce process? In this blog, we’ll explore the changes in Divorce Law and how they have affected divorce petitions, grounds for divorce, and the overall process.

Divorce Petition: The divorce petition is one of the first steps in ending a marriage. Previously, one spouse had to prove that the other was at fault for the breakdown of the marriage, stating adultery, or unreasonable behaviour. However, with the change in law, there is no longer a requirement to show fault. Couples can now jointly apply for a divorce online after a waiting period of six months. This has made the process easier and less confrontational, with less emphasis on finding blame and more on working together toward a solution.

Divorce Ground: Another significant change in Divorce Law is with respect to the grounds for divorce. Previously, the only way to obtain a divorce was to prove one of five reasons: –

  • Adultery
  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Desertion
  • Separation – two years with consent
  • Separation – five years without consent

However, under the new Act, couples can simply cite irreconcilable differences for their divorce. This allows couples to focus on moving forward rather than dwelling on past misgivings and entering drawn-out contested proceedings which can often happen when one party feels that the grounds stated are incorrect, or unfair.

Longer-term impact: One of the main objectives of the new law is to help couples to divorce in a manner that is more amicable, cooperative, and child focused. The approach is more conducive to negotiating and resolving disputes, which provides greater flexibility and cost-effectiveness. Many professionals in the legal industry (lawyers and mediators) feel that the new Act is steering the legal process in the right direction, ultimately leading to a more constructive, less stressful, and anguishing process.

Of course, there are still challenges that couples can face during the process of divorce. Despite the efforts made to create a more compassionate system, not all separations end amicably. Psychological issues such as depression, anxiety, and guilt can still arise, and these can impact both the couple and their children. And of course, the emotional turmoil is not something that can be easily predicted, let alone legislated for. However, the new legislation is certainly encouraging couples to take steps toward a more constructive future.


Overall, it’s clear that the new law has created a more compassionate, cooperative, and cost-effective process for couples seeking a divorce. The removal of fault-based divorce and the introduction of “no-fault” divorce has allowed couples to be more focused on working together and resolving their disputes amicably. The new law is also helping professionals in the legal industry to assist couples in finding a way forward in their separation. Clearly, there are still challenges to face, but the Divorce, Dissolution, and Separation Act 2020 is a positive step in the right direction.

If you are going through a divorce, or are thinking about starting divorce proceedings, Tayntons understands how difficult and stressful this time can be. Our experienced team is here to support you through the entire process. We provide practical and sensitive advice on all aspects of divorce, including financial settlements, child custody arrangements, and the division of assets.

With over 165 years of experience in Gloucestershire, we have a deep understanding of the local legal landscape and can provide you with bespoke legal solutions tailored to your individual needs. Our expert Family Law Solicitors are committed to providing you with the highest level of service and will work tirelessly to achieve the best possible outcome for you.

If you are considering a divorce, or need legal advice on any related matters, contact us today.

To contact us please call 0800 158 4147 or 03330 145451 or email

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