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Grounds For Divorce In England

By John Catral

In England and Wales, you can only divorce if you have already been married for a year. There is really only one ground for divorce, which is the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. You have to prove this irretrievable breakdown by establishing one or more of the following: adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion or undergoing a mutually agreed 2-year separation or a 5-year separation.

To use adultery as grounds you must prove through either substantial circumstantial evidence or through your spouses admission, that your spouse has had sex with another person of the opposite sex and that you find it intolerable to continue living with them. If a sexual liaison short of sexual intercourse has taken place you can use unreasonable behaviour grounds instead to obtain a divorce. If you know the name of the person involved it is wise not to name them in the divorce petition. Divorces where the third party is named usually become more acrimonious and take longer. You have 6 months from when you found out about the adultery to file for divorce.

You must show that your spouse has behaved in such a way that you cannot reasonably be expected to live with them to get a divorce using unreasonable behaviour as grounds. In an unreasonable behaviour divorce petition, the petitioner sets out their allegations against the respondent. Allegations may include excessive drinking, financial extravagance, or milder reasons, such as, having no common interests or pursuing a separate social life. Using milder allegations is wise when possible, it can make it easier to agree a divorce petition with your spouse in advance saving you both a great deal of additional stress.

To prove desertion your spouse must have deserted you without your consent for a continuous period of at least two years. This is the least used grounds for divorce.

To qualify for a divorce based on 2-years separation, you and your spouse must have been living apart by consent for at least the last two years immediately preceding the presentation of the divorce petition and you must both agree to a divorce.

To qualify for a divorce based on 5-years separation, you and your spouse must have been living apart for at least five years immediately prior to the presentation of the divorce petition. In this instance, your spouse does not have to consent to the divorce.

Looking to hire a gooddivorce solicitor? Visit Lee & Priestly, the Yorkshire law firm who can advise on all aspects of divorce and family law.

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Article Citation
MLA Style Citation:
Catral, John "Grounds For Divorce In England." Grounds For Divorce In England. 1 Jul. 2010. 12 Dec 2014 <>.

APA Style Citation:
Catral, J (2010, July 1). Grounds For Divorce In England. Retrieved December 12, 2014, from

Chicago Style Citation:
Catral, John "Grounds For Divorce In England"

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