Divorce 101: Grounds For Divorce – Northern Ireland (#7)

Divorce 101: Grounds For Divorce – Northern Ireland (#7)

No. 7 – Grounds For Divorce (Northern Ireland)

To end a marriage in Northern Ireland, you must establish it has broken down
irretrievably.  You prove this by fitting your circumstances into one of five

  • Adultery: This means your spouse has had full sexual
    intercourse with a person of the opposite sex.  You must have proof of adultery
    or the respondent must admit to it.  You cannot use this ground if the
    respondent has had a sexual relationship short of intercourse, or if they have
    had a sexual relationship with a person of the same sex.  If this is the case,
    then you must rely on the ground of unreasonable behaviour (see below).  If you
    go on living together for more than six months after you have found out about
    the adultery you may not be able to use this ‘fact’ because you also have to
    show the court that you find it ‘intolerable’ to go on living together.

  • Unreasonable behaviour: This means your spouse has behaved
    in such a way that you cannot reasonably be expected to live with him/her.  It
    can include persistent violence, insults, coldness, disgusting personal hygiene,
    inadequate sex – and more besides.

  • Desertion for a period of at least two years: This means
    that your partner has left you against your will, and you have been living apart
    for at least two years.  As you can get a divorce if you have been living part
    for two years and you both agree, this ‘fact’ is not used very often.

  • Two years separation with consent: Even if you both agree
    to divorce, one person still has to be the petitioner; you can’t ask the court
    for a divorce together.

  • Five years separation without consent: If you can’t get
    your spouse to agree to a divorce and you don’t fit into the other ‘facts’ you
    may have to wait until you have been apart for five years before you can
    petition for a divorce.

** Legal information & advice **

You can obtain further information about divorce on .

Depending on your circumstances, however, you may want to speak with a .  You can be in your area for free via
solicitor matching services, which can also help you to understand the best
course of action and whether you are ready to hire a solicitor.