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Grounds for divorce

Carltons Solicitors are specialist in Divorce and Family Law. If you are just considering a divorce then please contact us to arrange a consultation where we will be happy to assess your situation and outline the options available to you.

What are the grounds for divorce?

In English Law you have to show that a marriage has broken down irretrievably in order to obtain a divorce. In practice you cannot simply state ‘irreconcilable differences’ or that you have drifted apart as a couple.

An experienced divorce solicitor will help you to choose the most suitable reason for divorce from the following five.

1. Adultery

You can obtain a divorce immediately if you can prove adultery. This means that your spouse must have had sexual intercourse with a member of the opposite sex. An admission can be used as evidence or circumstantial evidence can be used if sufficient is available. In practice it is best to ensure in advance that your spouse will agree that they have committed adultery.

By stating adultery as grounds for divorce you are stating that you find it intolerable to go on living with your spouse.

You cannot petition for a divorce on the basis of your own adultery. In these circumstances either your spouse needs to petition for divorce on the basis of adultery or you need to be able to state a different reason for divorce.
Adultery cannot be used in cases of sexual intercourse with a member of the same sex.

2. Unreasonable behaviour

Unreasonable behaviour is the most commonly cited of the five facts when obtaining a divorce, in part because of its flexibility and ability to be used under varied circumstances.

You have to show that you find your partner’s behaviour so unreasonable that you cannot be expected to continue to live with them. contact usUnreasonable behaviour can include a multitude of behaviour including violent and threatening behaviour, verbal intimidation or aggression, or more simply, that you feel that your spouse has simply lost interest in you and the marriage, and offers little emotional or practical support.

Your spouse does not have to agree that their behaviour has been unreasonable. It is a subjective test, which means the court will focus on how their behaviour has made you feel.

Same sex couples can cite unreasonable behaviour if their partner has been unfaithful as a reason to dissolve their civil partnership.

3. Two years separation – with consent for the divorce

You can issue divorce proceedings on the grounds that you and your spouse have lived apart separately for a continuous period of two years or more.

This can only be used if your spouse is in agreement that the marriage was effectively at an end before the two year period commenced.

4. Five years separation – without consent for the divorce

If you can show that you have been living apart from your spouse for more than five years then you can petition for divorce regardless of whether or not they consent to the divorce.

5. Desertion by your spouse for two years

This ground is rarely used as usually one of the other five facts can be used instead. You can issue proceedings on these grounds if your spouse has deserted you for a period of two years or more.

6. Annulment

In some circumstances a divorce can be annuled where a marriage is void or voidable due to various reasons. Please contact us for more information.

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