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The Five Steps of a No-Fault Divorce Application

Divorce is not a fun process to endure, whichever way you encounter it. If you are unfortunate enough to become one of the 110,000-plus divorces that occur each year, there is a long legal process to bear with – and one which can be made more difficult if you are having to set grounds for divorce. Thankfully, a relatively new form of divorce process was passed into law as recently as 2022, which enables a broken-down marriage to end without in-court acrimony: the no-fault divorce.

Through no-fault divorces, estranged couples can apply for divorce without stating official grounds for said divorce – removing allocations of blame from legal documentation and proceedings, and minimising the likelihood of retaliatory behaviour during the divorce process. This can be nothing short of revelatory for separating couples who are looking for a low-stakes exit to their marriage. But what exactly are the steps involved in a no-fault divorce?

Filing for Divorce

The first step remains, unavoidably, to file for divorce. Whatever form your separation takes, this is the point at which legal professionals are retained to manage the divorce process on your behalf. Even with a no-fault divorce process – which in principle should be quicker, simpler and smoother than other more acrimonious forms of divorce – there are legal hoops to jump through which you are ill-equipped to manage as a citizen, let alone one facing the dissolution of their family.

Filing for a no-fault divorce can occur one of two ways. If you as a separating couple have jointly settled on divorce as your ideal option going forward, you can jointly carry out a divorce application. Alternatively, one of you can apply for divorce via a sole divorce application. In the event of the former, you will need to follow up your joint application with an acknowledgement receipt; with regard to the latter, your spouse has a fortnight to return an acknowledgment of service, in which they choose to accept or dispute the divorce.

Conditional Order

The conditional order is the next step in the divorce process, whereby the court formally recognises that there is no extenuating reason for which you cannot be divorced. This is the final waiting period before you are properly divorced, and is designed with amicable separation in mind.

As outlined in the government’s legislation announcement, there is a minimum 20-week delay between the initiation of divorce proceedings and the opportunity to apply for a conditional order; this is for the aforementioned reason, where those 20 weeks can be used gainfully to separate finances and assets privately.


The final step in the process comes 43 days after applying for a conditional order, when you are able to apply for a final order. This final order is the point at which you cease being married, and start your new life as a single person.