From today, separating couples in England and Wales will no longer need to apportion blame as part of the legal divorce process.
The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act (2020) brings in the most far-reaching change in divorce laws in more than 50 years.
Under the new no-fault divorce rules, either one or both of the partners can file for divorce without needing to provide a reason or attribute blame.
Under the old rules in England and Wales, anyone who wanted to split swiftly had to accuse their partner in a divorce petition of desertion, adultery or unreasonable behaviour.
If not, they had to spend two years apart if both partners agreed, or five, if one of the couple objected to the split.
Now, in most cases, the court will now only require a statement that the marriage is over.
There will be a minimum wait of 20 weeks between application and conditional order of divorce, and a further six-week period before divorce is granted.
The same no-fault rule applies to the dissolution of civil partnerships.
Judges will still step in to resolve disputes over children, maintenance or the just division of wealth.
It is hoped the new system will remove unnecessary conflict and stress and allow divorcing couples to rebuild their lives and protect children.
The changes come as part of the Government’s wider action to improve the family justice system.
No-fault divorce in some circumstances is already part of the legal system in Scotland, while the ‘blame rules’ will remain in force in Northern Ireland.