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Grounds for Divorce

What are the grounds for divorce?

The one and only ground on which you can apply for a divorceis that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. This is done by establishing one or more of the five facts:

  • Adultery.

The applicant has to prove through admission or evidence that their spouse had had sexual intercourse with someone of the opposite sex and that they find it intolerable to live with them. Interestingly, the intolerability factor does not have to be related to the adultery. Therefore you can cite adultery and say that you find it intolerable to live with your spouse because they snore! In reality adultery is not used that often as a fact because it can be hard to get the spouse to admit it and also because of the difficulty in getting real evidence.

  • Unreasonable behaviour.

This was the fact relied on by Nalini Howell. It has to be shown that the spouse has behaved in such a way that you cannot be reasonably expected to live with him or her. Called unreasonable behaviour for short, it is by far the most common fact used. This is because the courts do not insist on extreme behaviour. So a husband working too hard or spending too much time with his friends could qualify. The court would not require a detailed exploration of the facts, just that this is the fact to be relied on.

  • Two year’s separation.

This fact has the two people living apart for at least two years before bringing the divorce petition and the couple both agree to the divorce.

  • Five year’s separation without consent.

Here the couple will have been living apart for at least five years before the divorce petition is presented. Because of the time that has passed, it does not matter whether both parties agree to the divorce or not.

  • Desertion.

A fact very rarely used, this is where one spouse has deserted the other for a continuous period of at least two years.