According to the Office of National Statistics, 47.4%  of women who petitioned for divorce in 2020 did so on the grounds of “unreasonable behaviour.” 

Unreasonable behaviour is where your partner has acted in a way that is so unreasonable that you could not expect the relationship to continue.  

Currently, if someone is wanting to file for a divorce they must give one of the five reasons for the relationship breaking down:

  • Adultery
  • Desertion
  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Five years of separation without consent
  • Two years of separation with consent

This has created a “blame-game” culture in the UK, but this will all change come April 2022. The new divorce reform Act is said to be the “biggest shake-up of divorce laws in 50 over years.”

The new law changes are a long time coming and we feel they will have a positive impact on women in England. 

What is the new divorce law in England?

The UK divorce reform changes will allow couples to go their own separate ways without apportioning blame onto the other person for the relationship breaking down. Couples will not need to give evidence of the other person acting out of line, nor will they need to provide details of separation facts. Instead, a “statement of irretrievable breakdown” of the marriage or civil partnership will be sufficient. 

Additionally, for the very first time, joint applications for divorce will be allowed and parties will no longer be able to defend or contest the decision for divorce in most cases. 

Further to this, the “cooling-off period” or minimum time period between submitting the proceedings and making an application for Conditional Order (making the divorce final) will be increased to 20 weeks from 6 weeks. The idea behind this is to give couples a good amount of time to reflect on the decision and a sufficient opportunity to reconsider their decisions. 

Key changes breakdown:

  • No-fault divorce: Couples no longer need to give a reason for the relationship breaking down.
  • Joint divorce applications can now be made.
  • The minimum time between starting proceedings and finalising the divorce is now 20 weeks.
  • Couples can no longer contest the decision for divorce.

When is the new divorce law coming in?

The new Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 will come into force on 6th April 2022. 

How the divorce changes 2022 will impact women positively

A chance to leave a relationship amicably 

In the current divorce law, a spouse has to give a reason for filing for divorce regardless of whether the separation was decided mutually or not. This would surely create conflict where there doesn’t need to be and places an unnecessary emphasis on coming up with negative reasons for divorce, instead of allowing couples to split amicably. This will allow individuals to have more of a clean break in cases where two people have simply drifted apart and no longer want to be together through no fault of their own.

UK divorce statistics say that 47.4% of women and 33.8% of men used unreasonable behaviour as a reason for divorce. The new divorce reforms give women an opportunity to cut ties without potentially aggravating a situation or putting strain on an already strained relationship. Instead, focus can be put on moving on and bringing up children in a happy environment. 

Provides an easier way out for victims

The Ministry of Justice has said that the current law has opened up the doors to domestic abusers and those exercising coercive control over victims. The new divorce changes allow more of a clean break and mean that the other party cannot contest or argue against the divorce. In this sense, women who suffer coercive control or domestic violence are provided more of an opportunity to find a way out than they were before.

Whilst we are aware that reforms will not completely eliminate this, the new law at least reduces unnecessary conflict. Also as the spouse cannot refuse to go ahead with the divorce, this will speed up the process and avoid having to go back and forth between parties in a lengthy dispute which may provoke further abuse or violence.  

Mental Health

In the majority of cases, divorce is an unpleasant experience that can cause anxiety, stress and sometimes depression. Not only is the process of getting divorced a stressful time, but the added upset of two people separating or a family being separated can take its toll on those involved. 

There is no denying that divorce will generally always cause struggles, but the new divorce changes will allow individuals to make a swift exit, not have to argue about who was wrong and not have to worry about whether the other person will contest the divorce. This will surely ease many minds.

Also, the new minimum period of 20 weeks from starting the process and confirming the divorce allows women to reflect and seek advice or support which will invariably help them with the process.

Divorce costs can be reduced


The Office of National Statistics has found that the

 gender pay gap for the last tax year (2020) was 15.5%. Whilst the gap seems to be decreasing over the years, it is still apparent that men typically earn more than women. 

It is no secret that divorce proceedings can be costly and can put a large financial strain on women who do not necessarily earn as much as their spouses. As such, the new no-fault divorce will likely reduce these costs that come with cross petitions where a spouse may contest that the relationship broke down for instance. This will subsequently cut down on administration fees and other legal fees that would be involved in the process. 

Additionally, the new laws are more likely to result in more amicable splits which may mean that ex-couples are more likely to be open to discussing things like child arrangements and the splitting of assets, which if agreed outside of court, incur fewer fees.

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