Reasons for divorce

In England and Wales, divorcing couples must meet certain requirements in order to be granted a divorce. Firstly, they need to have been married for at least a year. If that is the case, they must then be able to prove that their marriage has broken down to such an extent that it is irretrievable. In order to demonstrate this, they must be able to prove one of the following acts has taken place:

Business Man & WomanAdultery can be used as grounds for a divorce when a partner discovers, that their wife or husband has been unfaithful and as a result they can no longer tolerate living with them. If a partner discovers adultery but then continues to live with their spouse for six months or more, they are considered to have condoned it and adultery cannot be cited.

Although at one stage adultery was once the most commonly cited ground for divorce, it has been since overtaken by unreasonable behaviour. This is because the criteria for adultery can be very specific, whereas the criteria for unreasonable behaviour are quite broad.

Desertion or separation
To cite desertion as a ground for divorce, one of the partners must have been living away from their husband or wife for more than two years of the previous two and a half years without good reason or agreement from their spouse. Alternatively, separation is a reason for divorce. If both parties agree to the divorce then two years separation constitutes an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. However, if only one party agrees to the divorce then they need to have been living separately for more than five years. These options are not very popular because of the length of time required.

Unreasonable behaviour
Unreasonable behaviour is the most commonly cited ground for a divorce. It covers a range of different circumstances that could include:

  • Verbal abuse
  • Physical abuse and domestic violence
  • Misuse of illegal drugs
  • Misuse of alcohol
  • Being financially irresponsible
  • Controlling behaviour
  • Lack of intimacy

Unreasonable behaviour is one of the easiest and fastest divorce routes to take and as such one of the most popular. Whereas other routes can take up to five years, unreasonable behaviour can make a divorce happen very quickly.

However, due to the many different situations and behaviours that the ground encompasses, it can be very helpful for a solicitor to help establish the correct legal wording which will help present your reasons to the court in a professional manner.

To read more about the divorce process you can read our free guide. Alternatively you can click here for more information on our divorce services.

Agree? Disagree? Do let Cooks Solicitors know what you think by commenting below.

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