When a relationship breaks down it can be an extremely emotional and stressful time, so the prospect of starting divorce proceedings can seem daunting. Our expert divorce solicitors can help.

As one of the largest, most experienced family law teams in the UK we will explain the whole process to you, advising you on your rights and all the options you have available. We have the experience, so you don’t have to worry.

'Over the whole of the twelve months I have been in constant contact with Vicki McLynn through my very messy divorce. I found her wealth of knowledge amazing. She has always responded very quickly, sometimes not the advice I want to hear, but absolutely the correct advice' Ms F, Cheshire

Grounds for Divorce

Just as every family is different, every divorce is different. The most important thing to know before you start divorce proceedings is that you have acceptable grounds for divorce. This is shown by proving your marriage has irretrievably broken down, due to one or more of the following facts:

  • adultery 
  • unreasonable behaviour
  • two years separation with consent
  • five years separation
  • desertion 

In practical terms, this means: 

This is when your spouse has had voluntary sexual intercourse with someone outside of the marriage. This can sometimes be difficult to prove, unless there is factual evidence such as the birth of a child. Unless adultery is admitted, it usually better to base the proceedings on unreasonable behaviour. 

If you remain living with your partner for more than 6 months after you discovered the adultery, you cannot use adultery as the basis of your divorce. Also, you cannot start divorce proceedings based on your own adultery. 

Unreasonable behaviour
This is decided by a mixture of an objective and subjective test, designed to prove that your spouse has behaved in a way that means you can’t reasonably be expected to live with him or her. Because the test is objective and subjective, the range of behaviour which can be cited is extremely wide. Obvious examples would be domestic violence but it can go as far as your spouse not paying you enough attention, or failing to support you in your hobbies/career etc. 

The examples need to be strong enough for a Judge to agree they warrant a divorce. 

Two years’ separation with consent or five years separation
Put simply, this means you must be able to establish one of two things: 

  • you have lived apart from your spouse for two years and they agree to the divorce 
  • you have lived apart from your spouse for over five years

Living separately doesn’t just mean living in separate properties. You can have lived in the same house for this time period, as long as you can prove the normal relationship has ceased. For example, if you sleep in separate rooms, do not eat together, do not do household chores together etc you can still be considered as living separate and apart. 

It is unusual to rely on desertion as grounds for divorce, as it is relatively technical to prove. You must demonstrate cohabitation has ceased and has been brought to an end by your spouse against your consent. Your husband or wife must not have had any reasonable cause to have left and it must have been for a minimum of two years before you can start proceedings. 

It can therefore sometimes be easier and more certain to proceed another way. 

Honest, expert divorce advice
It’s important to choose a divorce solicitor who makes you feel at ease and will explain things to you in a way that you will understand. You need to feel comfortable as sometimes divorce proceedings can raise sensitive and personal issues that need to be treated carefully. 

'You met every obstacle with openness, strength and professionalism, helping me focus on what was relevant and what was just pure untruths and nonsense, always showing massive strengths, reassuring me at all times.'
Mr T, Warrington

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