No-fault divorce ‘undermines’ vow to remain married for better and for worse

The Government “undermined the value of commitment in hard times” by introducing no-fault divorce, a Conservative Peer has warned.

Leading a House of Lords debate on parental separation, Lord Farmer rebuked claims that making divorce easier prevents acrimony, saying “this source of conflict pales alongside that over money and children”.

The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act came into effect in 2022. Under the law, couples can divorce in six months without having to give a reason and a spouse cannot contest the decision.


Lord Farmer highlighted the Institute for Fiscal Studies’ report that between 1971 and 2019, the number of births outside marriage in England and Wales rocketed from 8 to 48 per cent.

He said “parental separation is an enormous and egregious problem, the scale and ramifications of which few seem ready to acknowledge”, while “half of all births take place in inherently less stable, cohabitating couple families, or to parents living apart from the outset”.

The Peer emphasised that the consequences affect both children and parents, from increased chances of mental health problems to domestic abuse.

Lord Farmer said that as the online divorce system does not signpost support services, “should we not point people to research-based information about how divorce is rarely the end of a painful process but the beginning of a new one, especially for their children?”


Before no-fault divorce came into effect in 2022, anyone wanting to divorce their spouse had to prove their marriage had irretrievably broken down through either adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, or separation for two years with their spouse’s consent, or five years without.

The current law includes a statutory 20-week period that the Ministry of Justice described as an opportunity for couples “to reflect and turn back”.

Also see:

‘A big mistake’: MP Miriam Cates takes aim at no-fault divorce

Divorce applications highest in a decade after new quickie divorce law

No-fault divorce will increase marriage breakdown, warns columnist