What Are The Grounds For Divorce
The end of a marriage is an enormous change in someone’s life and the decision should not be made lightly. But once you have decided that you simply cannot continue being married to your spouse, it is not as straight-forward as you might imagine. It’s not just a case of asking for a divorce from the courts and it being granted.
The only ground for divorce in England and Wales is that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. It needs to be demonstrated that a relationship has reached the point where it can no longer be saved before a divorce will be allowed. You will be required to prove one of the following ‘facts’ in support of your divorce:
- Unreasonable behaviour
- Two years’ separation without consent
- Five years’ separation (with or without consent)
According to the laws of England and Wales, there are specific conditions that apply to each of the above. For this reason, it is always advisable to seek the advice of a qualified divorce solicitor before taking any action.
What qualifies as adultery?
This is very specific indeed. For more information we recommend reading Is Adultery and Infidelity: Grounds for Divorce?
The other four are unreasonable behaviour, desertion, separation for two years (with the other spouse’s consent), and separation for five years.
What is unreasonable behaviour?
This means that your partner has behaved in such a way that you can no longer be reasonably expected to continue living with them. It can cover a whole range of situations from relatively minor behaviour to verbal abuse, controlling behaviour, domestic violence and illegal drug use.
This is actually the most common reason cited in divorce petitions as it covers a broader spectrum of possibilities. Any infidelity that does not constitute adultery (as mentioned above) may be relied upon to demonstrate unreasonable behaviour.
What counts as desertion?
In order to use desertion to demonstrate the end of a marriage, the offending spouse must have done the following:
- Left without a just cause to do so
- Left without your agreement or consent
- Left with the intention of deserting their spouse
- Left for a continuous period of at least two years immediately before the presentation of the petition
We no longer live together. Is that enough for a divorce?
It is possible to obtain a divorce based on separation. If you have been living apart for more than two years you are eligible to bring your marriage to an end but your spouse must give their consent for the divorce to proceed.
If you have been apart for more than five years, your spouse’s permission is not required. However, if you divorce on this basis you must be aware that if your spouse manages to prove grave hardship will result as a consequence of the divorce, the court can make an order that you remain married. It is essential to obtain legal advice if you are considering a divorce relying on this ‘fact’.
Are there any other grounds?
No. In order to divorce in England and Wales, your application must prove one of the ‘facts’ set out above. If you can use them to demonstrate that your marriage has broken down beyond repair, your divorce will be granted.
If you are unsure about any of the points raised above, do not hesitate to get in touch. Stowe Family Law has a deep roster of top quality divorce solicitors who can clear up any confusion you may still have over divorce law and procedure.
Get in touch today to discuss your divorce.