Grounds for Divorce
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Grounds for Divorce
If you want a divorce you must show that your marriage has irretrievably broken down. To confidentially discuss your grounds for divorce simply contact us on 0800 840 4929. You can also consider processing your divorce online using our new fixed priced divorce calculator.
To divorce in the United Kingdom, it is necessary to establish one or more of the following facts:
In practical terms, this means:
Adultery is when you or your spouse has had voluntary sexual intercourse with a person of the opposite sex.
It is not possible to start divorce proceedings based upon your own adultery.
Because of the nature of adultery, it can sometimes be difficult to prove. If your spouse is willing to admit to it there will be no difficulty. If there is actual evidence (the most obvious being the birth of a child) this can also be relied upon.
In general, unless the adultery has been admitted or can be proved it is sometimes better to base your divorce proceedings on unreasonable behaviour (which is explained in more detail below), with your spouse’s relationship with another person being included in the divorce papers as an example of their unreasonable behaviour.
If you have lived with your spouse for more than 6 months after you discovered that they committed adultery, you cannot use it as the basis of the divorce. If, however, the adultery is continuing then the 6 month period only starts to run from the date of your discovery of the last act of adultery.
Whether your spouse has behaved in such a way that you cannot reasonably be expected to live with them is a mixture between a subjective and objective test.
The test (which has been set out in case law) is whether a right thinking person would come to the conclusion that your spouse has behaved in such a way that you cannot reasonably be expected to live with him or her taking into account the whole of the circumstances and the characters and personalities of you both.
Because of this objective/subjective mix the range of behaviour which can be cited is very wide. Obvious examples would include domestic violence but it can be as far from this as not paying you enough attention or failing to support you in your hobbies/ career etc.
The examples of unreasonable behaviour need to be strong enough to ensure that a Judge will agree that they warrant a divorce. The difficulty, however, is that these allegations can sometimes give rise to conflict and start your divorce with an unnecessary level of acrimony. The skill of your divorce solicitor is to strike a balance between the two.
Two years' separation with consent and five years' separation
To base your divorce on one of these facts, it is necessary to live separate and apart for either two or five years. If you have lived separate and apart for two years and your spouse agrees to the divorce then you can use the first ground. If you have lived separate and apart for five years you do not need the consent/agreement of your spouse to divorce.
If you live in separate households it can be assumed that you live separate and apart. Even if you live in the same household it is still possible to live separate and apart as long as it can be considered that the normal relationship between you as husband and wife has ceased. For example, if you live in the same household but sleep in separate rooms, do not eat together, do not do household chores together etc you could still be considered to be living separate and apart.
It is very unusual to rely on desertion to obtain a divorce. In comparison with the other facts, it is relatively technical and it can therefore sometimes be easier and more certain to proceed another way.
To show that your spouse has deserted you it is necessary to show first that cohabitation has ceased. The cohabitation must have been brought to an end by your spouse against your consent and your husband or wife must not have any reasonable cause to have stopped cohabiting with you. Finally, this must have been the position for a continuous period of at least two years immediately before the preparation of your divorce papers.
In light of this it is often easier to progress your divorce on the basis of two years' separation with consent or, indeed, your spouse’s unreasonable behaviour.
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