(b) unreasonable behaviour;
(c) two years desertion;
(d) two years separation with consent; and/or
(e) five years separation without consent.
In Scotland, irretrievable breakdown of marriage is also a ground for divorce, but two years desertion is not available as a fact. (NB. Scotland also has a second ground for divorce: transsexual gender recognition).
Unreasonable behaviour most commonly cited
The most recent data from the Office for National Statistics shows the most commonly cited fact for divorce in the UK is unreasonable behaviour. The reason for this is because currently there is no such thing as a no fault divorce in the UK. Thus, if a couple want to separate based on irreconcilable differences, one party will need to plead unreasonable behaviour or adultery or else wait two years or more for a divorce. Understandably most people find allegations of unreasonable behaviour far less objectionable than adultery. It is also far easier to prove.
Proving unreasonable behaviour
So what qualifies as unreasonable behaviour and how do you prove it? Well, there’s no exhaustive list. You must simply show that, objectively, nobody could expect you to carry on living with your spouse because of his or her conduct.
Here are a few examples of unreasonable behaviour:
- continuous name calling;
- inadequate sex;
- coldness or disinterest in you or the family;
- disrespectful, insulting or undermining behaviour;
- lack of financial support in maintaining the household;
- violent or abusive behaviour;
- habitual drunkenness or drug taking;
- criminal activity; and
- disgusting personal hygiene.
If both you and your spouse want a divorce, you may decide to make a less serious allegation. Of course, seek legal advice about this, but courts generally grant more leeway as regards what behaviour might be considered unreasonable if both of you reach an agreement on a divorce. And receiving a less offensive petition will be a lot more palatable for your spouse, and hence may make them more cooperative than they might otherwise be.
If you are still living together, it is important to remember that if you plead unreasonable behaviour you must petition for divorce within six months of the last incident. And if you are no longer living together, it is important that you separated within six months of the unreasonable behaviour.
Finding legal help
To find a quality-assured solicitor who specialises in family law you may want to use a free solicitor referral service, which can also help you to understand the best course of action for your situation and whether you are even ready to hire a solicitor.
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