Divorce 101: Grounds For Divorce – England & Wales (#5)

Divorce 101: Grounds For Divorce – England & Wales (#5)

No. 5 – Grounds For Divorce (England & Wales)

To end a marriage in England & Wales, you must establish it has broken down irretrievably.  You prove this by fitting your circumstances into one of
five ‘facts':

  • 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.  During the period of separation you can have had up to
    six months trying to live together again.  This doesn’t count towards the two
    years, however.

  • 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.  Your partner may still be able to block it by trying to
    prove to the court that the divorce could cause gross financial or other
    hardship, but this rarely happens.

** Legal information & advice **

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