Three ways no fault divorce will help your children


date published

21st March 2022

written by

Emma Heptonstall Image

date published

21st March 2022

For most families, no fault divorce is excellent news for your children. When the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act comes into force on 6 April 2022 it will remove the need for one party to blame the other, or have to wait two years. At first glance, it might seem this has nothing to do with any children involved! But it creates a change of tone, culture and intent in the whole divorce process. And this will have a positive ripple effect for your children. Let’s explore the three ways no fault divorce will help your children. 

1. You and your spouse can be on the same side

If you’re getting divorced it’s unlikely you and your soon-to-be-ex are best friends. They might make your blood boil much of the time. You might deeply resent how they behaved, and the history that led to the end of your marriage.

Despite all that, no fault divorce allows you to focus on divorcing well. Or, as Gwyneth Paltrow might put it, ‘conscious uncoupling’. Rather than being thrown into a blame game, in which one of you is pitted against the other in the eyes of the law, you can now apply for the divorce jointly. 

Not everyone will apply jointly, of course. There will still be cases in which one person wants to end the marriage and the other really doesn’t. But only one person needs to declare that the marriage has broken down irretrievably to trigger the divorce process. There is no longer scope to contest the divorce petition and drag out the decision.

And because you no longer need to blame one person for the divorce, it makes it easier to focus on the future. Even if your soon-to-be-ex isn’t happy that your marriage is ending, they will not have to face the bitterness of being accused of unreasonable behaviour in the legal papers, or of accusing you. Which makes the chances of collaboration a lot higher. 

You may no longer be on the same side in your marriage. But you can both agree that you want to divorce as peaceably as possible, and put your energy into that. Which is a lot easier on your children. It’s a far more secure scenario if you and your soon-to-be-ex work together to map out arrangements for the children rather than scrap over the details of who’s to blame for the marriage ending. 

2. You can focus your attention on them

The need to blame one party for your marriage breakdown absorbs a lot of time and energy. It causes resentment and conflict from the onset of your divorce journey. Children absorb that mood and atmosphere. And in more acrimonious cases they become unwitting weapons as you and your spouse wage war against each other. 

Removing the need to find fault doesn’t make divorce easy. Of course, it doesn’t. It doesn’t mean you can’t be angry with your spouse. But it does mean you can put your energy in what is happening now, and what will happen going forward, rather than what has happened in the past. 

And this means you can put your children front and centre. The court has always prioritised the welfare of children – yet the fault system created needless conflict. Now the system is designed for collaboration. If you and your soon-to-be-ex can reach a working understanding that you’re in the divorce journey together as far as your parenting goes, that makes the road a lot easier. 

3. You can show them how to let go healthily

Children experience break ups all the time. From nursery age, children will encounter scenarios where they are left out, or argue explosively over who gets the next go on the swing. As parents, teachers and child-carers, we encourage children to talk through their feelings, find solutions and let go of friendships that are past their sell-by date.

Yet, so often, this advice goes out of the window when it comes to divorce. No fault divorce provides a new opportunity. An opportunity to:

  • Show compassion while maintaining healthy boundaries
  • Allow yourself to express sadness while knowing the sadness will gradually pass
  • Let go of the past and focus on a positive future.

You don’t have to be a saint. It’s ok for your children to know that you’re sad, or angry. As long as you also let them know that those feelings are normal, and don’t last forever. And that whatever’s happened, they’re not to blame for any of it. 

What won’t change for your children? 

Divorce is always going to be a disruption to your children’s lives. And, quite often, it will bring sadness and confusion. Your children will still have questions about what happened, what it means for them, and what their future will look like. None of that will change.

Your children will still need your honesty, protection and reassurance. You need to be able to answer their questions as honestly as possible, because they are likely to sense if you are concealing something. Equally, they don’t need to know every detail of who did what during your marriage. You have both a right and a responsibility to protect them from the angrier, more hurtful aspects of your divorce as far as possible. And, throughout all of it, you can reassure them that you love them.

This will be true for every divorce, and especially true if you are divorcing a narcissist or other high conflict personality type. People with high conflict traits are likely to pursue blame and recrimination, whatever changes there are to the legal system. Remember, you can’t control what your soon-to-be-ex does. All you can do is create a safe, stable space in which your children know they are loved.

Make a plan

If the thought of telling your children about divorce fills you with dread, or you’ve hit a family crisis point, I can help. I bring all my mediation and coaching expertise, as well as my legal experience to the table. I can help you make a plan that works for you and your family, and develop communication strategies to keep the emotional heat down with your spouse. 

Not sure of your best way forward? Book in a free 30 minute chat today, and we can explore your options together. 


About Emma

Emma Heptonstall, the Divorce Alchemist is the author of the Amazon best-selling book How to be a Lady Who Leaves, the Ultimate Guide to Getting Divorce Ready. A former lawyer, Emma is a family mediator and founder of Get Divorce Ready the online self-study and group programmes. Emma has been featured on BBC Radio, The Telegraph, the iPaper and in Marie Claire Magazine. Emma is also the host of  The Six Minute Divorce Podcast. To find out more visit

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