No Fault Divorce

No Fault Divorce

NI Falling Behind England & Wales in Terms of Amicable Divorce Options

Married couples and families in Northern Ireland now have much fewer options than counterparts in England & Wales to move forward following relationship breakdown.

As of Wednesday 6 April, married couples in England & Wales will no longer have to make allegations about the conduct of their spouse in order to achieve a timely divorce, as the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 comes into force.

In Northern Ireland, married couples will continue to only be able to achieve a divorce after being married for one year, and on the grounds of ‘irretrievable breakdown.’

What can ‘irretrievable breakdown’ include?

  • adultery
  • unreasonable behaviour
  • two years’ desertion
  • two years’ separation (with partner’s consent)
  • five years’ separation

Whilst in the instances of adultery or unreasonable behaviour, a divorce can be triggered immediately in NI because they are ‘fault based,’ married couples otherwise have to wait a minimum of two years after separation before they can activate a non-fault based divorce. Is this fair?

Duane Farrell, CEO at Relate NI says;

“When couples are experiencing relationship breakdown, if both parties agree there is no prospect of reconciliation, should they be forced to blame the other just to achieve a speedier divorce?”

“England & Wales are moving on and saying that they shouldn’t, but Northern Ireland continues to maintain an archaic divorce system which fuels unnecessary animosity & blame which does not encourage positive co-parenting relationships”.

“A wealth of research shows that frequent, intense and poorly resolved conflict is damaging to children’s life chances, whether parenting together or apart. That’s why we are calling for the introduction of ‘No Fault Divorce’ legislation, as well as investment in relationship support services within our Assembly Election Manifesto of Key Policy Asks”

“In addition to legislative changes, we need to do more as a society to promote healthy relationships, reduce parental conflict and make relationship support available for parents and families and this is also embedded within our Manifesto asks”

Download our full “Relationships Matter Manifesto” using the button below.

« »

“How Relate NI helps people”

“I found the Relationship MOT an excellent method of focusing on we work as a couple and just as importantly, where we need to work. It was professional, insightful and well worth the time. It has reminded us of how much we have to be proud of in our relationship and why it is so important to occasionally review it with experts.”Service Attended Relationship MOT
“I would definitely recommend using the Relationship MOT service as a bit of a check in with your partner. I thought how the counsellor was able to steer the conversation was very insightful and nuanced. The MOT reminded us about why we are great together but also the importance of communication and respect.” “Our counsellor provided an outside perspective which immediately helped us to agree that we needed to stop and think with more kindness and empathy for each other especially when stressed or pissed off. We both felt that our counsellor’s excellent and gentle facilitation was quite invigorating. So many positives!”Service Attended Relationship MOT 2
Very Interesting Content. I like the concept of preparing your relationship before you have problemsService Attended Sustaining Healthy Relationships – Surestart 4
The face to face programme has made me feel connected with others experiencing similar thingsService Attended Sustaining Healthy Relationships – Surestart 3
The workshops made me more confident to balance family life after the baby's arrivalService Attended Sustaining Healthy Relationships – Surestart 2
I now have a better understanding of myself, it is good to know that it is normal to have argumentsService Attended Sustaining Healthy Relationships – Surestart 1
I felt the weekly questionnaire, couples with the counsellor's understanding of my needs help contribute to my own understanding of my mental health and needs throughout.Service Attended Adult Relationship Counselling for Individuals
I loved every session. Our counsellor listened to what we had to say and gave us helpful wee homework - would recommend this service to everybodyService Attended Adult Relationship Counselling for Couples
Our counsellor was a fantastic support - we now feel strong enough to continue working on our relationship togetherService Attended Adult Relationship Counselling for Couples
I had a very good counsellor that helped me through a lot and it has made me come out the other side.Service Attended Adult Relationship Counselling for Individuals
Counselling took us from a bad place to a good one and I would return if neededService Attended Adult Relationship Counselling For Couples
Been a lifeline to help us fall in love again - forever grateful!Service Attended Adult Relationship Counselling For Couples
I would just like to say that when I first came for counselling I felt that I was drowning.  I have completed my sessions and I now feel that I can cope a lot better with everything.  Thank you for a brilliant service.Service Attended Adult Relationship Counselling For Individuals
Thank you Relate NI for a good nights sleep.Service Attended Relate NI Kids Counselling
Really enjoyed Relate NI and I'm actually going to miss counselling.  I Found it helpful to find myself again. Very fair and equal within our relationship.Service Attended Adult Relationship Counselling For Couples
I appreciated the straightforward, helpful and informed observations about situations. It really helped me cope during Christmas which is a difficult time for usService Attended Family Counselling
The counsellor was very pleasant to meet with.  They had the necessary skills to speak and listen when appropriate.  I liked their humour and good personality.Service Attended Family Counselling
Relate NI has helped me move on as well as understand myself and situation more.  My counsellor listened to me, facilitated me and was compassionate!Service Attended Relate NI Teen Counselling
I felt the weekly questionnaire, coupled with counsellor's understanding of my needs helped contribute to my own understanding of my mental health and needs throughoutService Attended Adult Relationship Counselling For Individuals
We had four funded sessions and cannot express how grateful we are for the help, guidance and knowledge. Our counsellor was incredibly professional, and her experience and obvious passion for helping couples like us was exceptional. She helped us to understand ourselves and each other like we otherwise never would have been able to.Service Attended Adult Relationship Counselling For Couples
I have tried counselling many times in the past. This time actually made a difference. I was able to complete online sessions as well as some face to face.Service Attended Adult Relationship Counselling For Individuals

    Reach out to Relate NI





      Get relationship tips by email

      By submitting your details,you are confirming you consent to our processing of
      your personal data. Please see our privacy policy for further details