What Are The Grounds For Divorce?
Under the law of England and Wales, you cannot apply for a divorce until you have been married for one year. There is one ground for divorce, which is the marriage has irretrievably broken down.
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In England and Wales, there is one ground for divorce, which is the marriage has irretrievably broken down. Currently, you must prove that your marriage has irretrievably broken down by showing that one of the five facts of divorce has taken place. However, this may change in the future with the introduction of ‘no-fault’ divorce.
Grounds for divorce – the five facts
Under current divorce laws, to prove the marriage has irretrievably broken down, the Petitioner needs to use one of five reasons. These are called the facts of divorce and they are:
- Unreasonable behaviour
- Two years’ separation and you both agree to the divorce
- Five years’ separation without consent
To be able to rely on adultery, the affair must have been a sexual relationship with someone of the opposite sex. In reality, that party must be prepared to admit the adultery in writing. Therefore, whilst it can be one of the quickest ways to get divorced, it can be one of the messiest. There are time limits on how long you can rely on adultery. You have six months from the day that you became aware of the adultery, if you continue to live together.
This means that your partner has behaved in such a way that you cannot reasonably be expected to continue living with that person. Whilst such behaviour can include physical and verbal abuse, it is more common to rely on quite mild particulars such as the lack of affection. If you can agree the allegations beforehand, and the divorce is uncontested, then you shouldn’t have to prove that your spouse’s behaviour was unreasonable.
Your partner must have left you in order to end the relationship without your consent or good reason. You must have lived apart for a total of two years in the past two and a half years. However, desertion is rarely pleaded as it is difficult to prove. This is because you must establish to the court that you were unhappy about being deserted for the entire two year period. It is also difficult to prove the intent of the deserting party.
Two years’ separation with consent
You can get divorced if you have been separated for two years or more and you both consent to the divorce. Usually this means that you have not been living together for 24 months. However, it is possible to establish separate households while living under the same roof if certain conditions are satisfied. We can advise you about these. You must both agree to the divorce/dissolution, if you are to rely on two years’ separation.
Five years’ separation
You can get a divorce if you have been separated from your spouse for five years or more. He or she does not have to agree to the divorce or dissolution.
Future changes in the law
Solicitors and other professionals have been campaigning for a no-fault divorce system for a long time. It is hoped the new law will come into force in late 2021. When the new rules are implemented, it will no longer be necessary for couples who wish to divorce or dissolve a civil partnership to attribute blame to their partner.
Should you require any further information, please do not hesitate to contact our divorce law solicitors for a free initial enquiry.