Grounds for divorce
To obtain a divorce it has to be shown that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. The law requires that this is shown by stating one of the following five reasons as grounds for divorce:
- Unreasonable behaviour
- Two years separation - with consent for the divorce
- Five years separation - consent for divorce not required
- Desertion for a period of at least two years
You cannot simply state ‘irreconcilable differences’ or the fact that you have drifted apart as a reason for divorce. Your divorce solicitor will help you to match your circumstances to the most appropriate legal grounds for divorce.
A brief explanation of the meaning and uses of the above ground for divorce is contained below. Contact us to speak to one of our divorce solicitors who will be happy to explain these further and tell you how your case should be handled.
This means that your spouse must have had sexual intercourse with a member of the opposite sex. This can be proved by an admission or by sufficient circumstantial evidence. By stating adultery as grounds for divorce you are stating that you find it intolerable to go on living with your spouse.
You cannot petition for a divorce on the basis of your own adultery. In these circumstances either your spouse needs to petition for divorce on the basis of adultery or you need to be able to state a different reason for divorce.
Adultery cannot be used in cases of sexual intercourse with a member of the same sex.
Here you have to show that you find your partner’s behaviour so unreasonable that you cannot be expected to continue to live with them. In reality this can cover a broad spectrum of behaviour from abuse to excessive drinking, financial irresponsibility or even things such as devoting too much time to their career, to the detriment of family life, lack of intimacy or lack of communication.
Unreasonable behaviour is now the most common reason cited for divorce in England and Wales, in part because of its flexibility and ability to be used under varied circumstances. The courts do not require the allegations to be particularly serious as long as you can show that you cannot be expected to continue living with the behaviour in question. In some cases it can be beneficial to use mild allegations in order to reach agreement with your spouse, rather than them contesting the allegations.
Same sex couples can cite unreasonable behaviour if their partner has been unfaithful as a reason to dissolve their civil partnership.
This is simply when you and your spouse have been living apart for two years from the breakdown of the marriage and both of you agree to the divorce. You must be clear that the marriage was at an end before the two year period starts to run.
If you have been living apart from your spouse for more than five years then you can petition for divorce without their consent.
This is when your spouse has left you, against your will, for more than two years. The petitioning spouse must be able to demonstrate to the courts satisfaction that they always wanted their partner to return during this time, otherwise it is not desertion. Desertion is rarely used as grounds for divorce as other more suitable reasons can usually be found.
Contact us to speak to one of our experienced divorce solicitors for more information.
Our team of family solicitors comprises Resolution Accredited Specialists, Collaboratively trained lawyers and members of the Law Society's Children Panel.