common law

What are the main grounds for divorce in England and Wales?

In the penultimate of our short films we look at the main grounds for divorce in England and Wales.

If you have any further questions, or would like to arrange an appointment to discuss any issues you may have, please do contact us.

To see other films, in which members of our Family team answer the top ten questions we are asked on divorce, financial settlement, cohabitation and civil partnership, follow this link.

There is one ground for divorce in this country and that is that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. In support of that you can use one of five facts. The most commonly used of these facts is unreasonable behaviour – that is if your spouse has behaved in such a way that you can’t reasonably be expected to live with them. Examples of unreasonable behaviour could include failure to address the problems that were occurring in the marriage. For example, unwilling to spend time together, show affection or address issues.

However, for the purposes of the petition it is generally suitable to keep the examples of unreasonable behaviour as un-contentious as this will make the petition more likely to be undefended as the other party are more likely to feel the allegation is not to ‘damning’

If the parties can agree the particulars of the petition before it is sent to the court, it can make things a lot easier.

The other reasons for divorce include:

Adultery– whereby your spouse has committed adultery with a person of the opposite sex. It might be worth noting that if you’re petitioning on the basis of adultery you don’t need to name the third party concerned. If you did name the third party concerned you would actually have to serve them with the divorce papers. So, in practice its very unusual for the third party to be named

Desertion, which is very rarely used in practice.