It has been a very busy first 3 months of the year for divorce and separation, one of the questions that I keep being asked is
“Do the grounds for divorce matter…?”
Legal jargon is confusing enough and this very basic question should have a simple answer…
In actual fact there is only one ground for divorce in England and Wales, and that is that your marriage has irretrievably broken down. To prove that your marriage has irretrievably broken down, you will need to state on the Divorce Petition that one of the following has taken place –
If your spouse has committed adultery with someone of the opposite sex, you can use adultery as a reason for divorce. You can name the person your husband or wife committed adultery with, and if you do, he/she will also receive a copy of the Divorce Petition in the post.
However, you cannot use the reason of adultery if you continued to live together as a couple for six months or more after you discovered the adultery. You also cannot use the reason of adultery if your husband or wife had relations with someone of the same sex
If your spouse acts in such a way that living together is intolerable, you can use unreasonable behaviour as a reason for divorce. Unreasonable behaviour might include physical violence, verbal abuse, refusing to pay towards household costs, drunkenness and drug-taking.
Unreasonable behaviour must be so serious that you cannot reasonably be expected to continue living together. Therefore, it is more than general arguments or differences of opinion.
Living Separately for two years
If you and your ex have been living separately for two years or more, you can use this as a reason for divorce, but your husband or wife must agree to it in writing.
Living separately will either mean that you have been physically living in separate households, or that you have been living under the same roof but ‘separately and apart’. This means that you sleep in different rooms and do not share any household tasks, such as cooking, eating and laundry.
Living separately for five years
If you and your ex have been living separately for five years or more, you can use this as a reason for divorce. Your husband or wife does not have to agree to it.
If your husband or wife has left you without your agreement for at least two years over the past two and a half years, and there was no good reason for this, you can use desertion as a reason for divorce.
Filling out the Divorce Petition
It is often thought that the grounds for divorce in England and Wales are adultery, unreasonable behaviour, living separately for two years, living separately for five years and desertion. In fact, there are known as the five facts of divorce.
When getting a divorce, the person who fills in the Divorce Petition will need to select one of the five facts of divorce, as this will prove that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. You may also need to provide some supporting information as evidence.
If you are the one filing for divorce, you need to carefully consider which reason to use. There are certain circumstances when each fact of divorce can and cannot be used, so you might want to get expert legal advice before making your decision.
If you would like professional legal help with any aspect of your divorce, do not hesitate to contact our Family Law Experts. For an informal chat or to book a consultation, call us on 0333 4564 444, or for international calls, dial +44 1992 505406