Policy paper

Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill

The Bill makes important changes to the legal process for married couples to obtain a divorce, for civil partners to dissolve their civil partnership, or for obtaining a judicial separation.


Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill

Fact sheet

Equalities statement

Impact assessment

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Impact assessment (unsigned version)

Family impact test

Reform of the legal requirements for divorce consultation and government response


The Bill seeks to give effect to hugely important and long overdue reform that will have real benefits for individuals, parents and children and is a key piece of social domestic policy for the government. It will align the ethos underlying divorce law with the government’s approach elsewhere in family law, which is to encourage a forward-looking non-confrontational approach wherever possible – thereby reducing conflict and its damaging effect on children in particular.

The Bill:

  • replaces the requirement to prove either a conduct or separation ‘fact’ with a requirement to file a statement of irretrievable breakdown of the marriage (couples can opt to make this a joint statement)
  • removes the possibility of contesting the decision to divorce as a statement will be conclusive evidence that the marriage has broken down irretrievably
  • introduces a new minimum period of 20 weeks from the start of proceedings to conditional order stage
Published 13 June 2019
Last updated 8 January 2020 + show all updates
  1. Bill link, fact sheet and ECHR memorandum updated.

  2. Documents updated.

  3. First published.