Reasons for Divorce

It’s always sad when a marriage breaks down irretrievably, but if you have decided that your marriage really is over and that you need a divorce [or civil partnership dissolution], you will need to be able to justify your grounds for divorce. This means being able to prove that your relationship has broken down and that there is no chance for reconciliation. So-called “no-fault” divorce is not available in England and Wales. Instead there are five “grounds” that need to be proved to the courts satisfaction for a divorce can be granted, namely;

1.) Adultery

If you are planning to cite adultery as grounds for divorce then you will need to provide some details of this, especially if the partner who has committed the adultery is unwilling to make an admission that they have done so. The evidence you use to prove adultery can be circumstantial, but it will also need to be able to show that you are unable to live with your spouse because they have slept with another person. If you use adultery as grounds for divorce, you do not need to name the other person involved in the adultery, although you can if you wish. Speaking to our divorce solicitors about this is a good idea as it can be a sensitive issue that raises additional complications. Also, you need to send in your divorce petition within six months of finding out about the adultery unless the situation is on-going. Additionally, only the spouse not involved in the adultery can file for divorce on grounds of adultery. It is important to note that adultery can normally only be used as grounds for divorce in heterosexual marriages; it does not apply in the same way to civil partnerships.

2.) Unreasonable behaviour

This is a common reason cited as grounds for divorce and it means that you feel your spouse’s behaviour leaves you unable to live with them any longer. You will need to be able to cite instances of unreasonable behaviour when you file your divorce petition. These reasons could be relatively minor issues such as not being able to spend enough time together or not having anything in common, as well as more serious issues. Our divorce solicitors will always encourage you to divorce in a friendly fashion as possible. In particular, we will suggest that if you choose to use unreasonable behaviour as the the ground for your divorce, that you find relatively minor examples – avoiding highly personal issues that might cause embarrassment or distress to you or your spouse – doing so achieves nothing but upsetting your partner and could make the whole process of separation and divorce much trickier.

3.) 2 years Separation

If you have been living apart for two years and you both agree that divorce is the right option, you can cite this as grounds for divorce. If you have been living apart for more than five years, you will be able to file for divorce even if your spouse does not agree to it.

4.) Five years Separation

As indicated above, if you have been living apart for five years, then you can use this as grounds for divorce – whether or not your ex spouse agrees.

5.) Desertion

This reason is not commonly used as grounds for divorce, but if your spouse has deserted you for a period of two years or more, you can use desertion as your grounds for divorce. Our divorce solicitors will be able to advise you on the procedure for doing this. It’s worth noting that adultery and unreasonable behaviour are, therefore, the only two grounds immediately available for divorce in England and Wales on the first anniversary of your marriage.

Talk to our Specialist Divorce Solicitors first.

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