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What are the Grounds for Divorce?

In England and Wales you must show that a marriage has irretrievably broken down in order to obtain a divorce. You must do this be proving one of the following five facts.

When it comes to deciding which legal ground for divorce to state your solicitor will help you to identify which is most suitable for your circumstance.

1. Unreasonable behaviour

Your partner behaved so badly that you can no longer bear to live with them. This is the most frequently used ground for divorce as it can cover such a wide range of behaviour.

Some examples of unreasonable behaviour could include:

When using unreasonable behaviour as a ground for divorce 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 many cases it can be helpful to use mild allegations in order to reach an agreement with your spouse and move the process forward, rather than using harsh accusations which your spouse may challenge and ultimately delay the divorce process.

2. Adultery

This means that your partner had sexual intercourse with someone else of the opposite sex and you can no longer bear to live with them.

When stating adultery as a reason for divorce your partner must either admit to the adultery or you must be able to provide evidence of actual sexual intercourse.

However, you can’t rely on adultery as a ground for divorce if you have lived with your husband or wife for 6 months after you found out about it.

You cannot ask for a divorce on the foundation of your own adultery. If this is the case then you either need to state different grounds for divorce, or your partner must request for the divorce on the basis of your adultery.

3. Desertion

Your husband or wife has left you:

You can still claim desertion if you have lived together for up to a total of 6 months in this period.

4. You have lived apart for more than 2 years - with consent for the divorce

You can get a divorce if you’ve lived separately for more than 2 years and both agree to the divorce.

Your husband or wife must agree in writing.

5. You have lived apart for more than 5 years - without consent for the divorce

Living apart for more than 5 years is usually sufficient to get a divorce, even if your ex-partner disagrees with the divorce.

Some of the above terminology may seem very complicated. A specialist solicitor will help you to decide on the most suitable grounds for your divorce and guide you through the process.

If you would like to discuss an issue with one of our family law solicitors, please contact us and one of our specialist team will be happy to advise you.

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