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What are the grounds for divorce? Everything you need to know.

Couple agreeing the grounds for their divorce

You cannot apply for a divorce until you have been married for at least one year. To start divorce proceedings you need to file a Divorce Petition at court. There is only one legal ground for divorce, which is that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.

People often think that it’s enough to say that they have simply ‘grown apart’ to end their marriage. However, unless you have lived apart from your spouse for more than two years, you must place blame on your husband/wife to obtain a divorce.

You must show that the conduct of your spouse is such that it is unreasonable to expect you to live with them. This means that you are unable or simply not willing to remain in a marriage with your spouse. Your relationship cannot be retrieved and has come to a definite end.

Grounds for divorce – The five facts

The person who starts proceedings is called the Petitioner. If the Petitioner can convince the courts that their marriage has irretrievably broken down, the court will allow the divorce. To prove that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, the Petitioner must use one of the following five facts or grounds for divorce:

  • Adultery
  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Desertion
  • Two years separation with consent
  • Five years separation (no consent required)
Most used grounds for divorce in England and Wales

Adultery as a ground for divorce

In legal terms, adultery refers explicitly to a married man or woman having sexual intercourse with someone of the opposite sex. This means that many behaviours often thought of as adultery are not in the eyes of the law.

Legally, adultery covers only sexual intercourse, which means behaviours such as kissing, masturbation, fellatio, sexting, and virtual sex do not count to get divorced.

Adultery can only be used if actual sexual intercourse has taken place between your spouse and a person of the opposite sex.

Under current law, if you are in a civil partnership, you cannot rely on adultery, even if your partner committed adultery with a member of the opposite sex.

Its often thought that divorce on the grounds of adultery is the most commonly used. However, due to the difficulty in proving that it took place, only 9% of men and 11% of women use adultery based on research from the Office of National Statistics.

For more information on adultery and how to use it for your divorce, read our article here.

Unreasonable behaviour as a ground for divorce

The most common ground for divorce is unreasonable behaviour used by 37% of men and 52% of women.

To use unreasonable behaviour, the Petitioner must show that the conduct of their spouse is such that it is unreasonable for the court to expect the Petitioner to live with them.

The Divorce Petition must include examples of the Respondent’s unreasonable behaviour during the marriage. This can consist of severe or relatively mild allegations of behaviour.

Common examples of unreasonable behaviour include physical and verbal abuse, alcohol or drug misuse and financial irresponsibility.

For more information on unreasonable behaviour and how to use it for your divorce, read our article here.

Desertion as a ground for divorce

Of the 90,000 divorces in England and Wales in 2018, less than 400 people used desertion as their ground for divorce.

The Petitioner needs to show that the Respondent has deserted him/her for a continuous period of at least two years. Proving that desertion took place can be tricky, so two years separation is often used as the ground for divorce instead.

Two years separation as a ground for divorce

If a married couple has lived separately for two years or more and both agree in writing to a divorce, then this can be proof that an irreparable breakdown of marriage has occurred.

Two years separation with consent is the second most common ground for divorce after unreasonable behaviour, used by 32% of men and 23% of women.

Five years separation as a ground for divorce

If a married couple has lived separately for five years or more, then this can be proof of marital breakdown. Although both people need to agree to use two years of separation to obtain a divorce, five years of separation can be used even if your spouse does not agree to a divorce.

The case for an uncontested divorce

An uncontested divorce is undoubtedly the easiest on couples and their children. Uncontested divorce essentially means that both parties can reach an agreement about the reasons for their divorce.

Couples who cannot agree on these terms will need to use the services of an expensive high street solicitor.

Not only is a contested divorce expensive, but it is time-consuming and emotionally harmful to couples, their children and close friends and family. It is for these reasons that Easy Online Divorce works with couples to help them agree to an uncontested divorce.

Instead of visiting a solicitor and getting charged upwards of £180 per hour, Easy Online Divorce can get your divorce papers completed almost effortlessly, within 24 hours and without you even needing to leave your home.

At Easy Online Divorce, our Fully Managed Divorce service costs £169. It provides you with complete peace of mind as we manage your uncontested divorce process for you. Everything from start-to-finish is handled for you including completion of all papers, filing them at court and dealing with any queries from the judge.

Choosing the right grounds for divorce.

To make the divorce process as straightforward as possible, it is vital to establish the grounds on which to base your divorce petition as early as possible. In many cases, the reasons for the marriage breakdown does not fit neatly into one of the five ground for divorce, and often there is overlap. Easy Online Divorce can assess your personal circumstances and help you to make the right choice to achieve a fast and less stressful divorce.

Divorce services for a tighter budget.

Our mission is to reduce the financial and emotional impact that divorce has on families, by helping couples spend less on their legal fees and reducing conflict between them.

We do this by encouraging and facilitating an uncontested divorce. At Easy Online Divorce, we believe it is possible to reduce stress and the money spent on solicitors if you have the right information.

But the legal system can be very intimidating and confusing, and many solicitors want to keep it that way because they charge by the hour. Easy Online Divorce is different.

We want you to divorce quickly and as painlessly as possible so that you can get on with your life.

We offer three transparent services for every budget that will save you between £800 and £1600 in legal costs compared to a high street solicitor.

DIY Assist Service

At £29, our DIY Divorce Service is perfect if spending the minimum amount of money is your primary concern.

We will explain the divorce process in simple, straightforward terms and include step-by-step instructions on how to draft your petition, along with examples of how to complete them.

Our DIY Assist Service is for people who want to file the divorce themselves but have expert help. It is not suitable for everyone. If you’d like us to take more of the stress away, consider our Completed and Verified or Fully Managed Services.

For more information about our DIY Divorce Service click here.

Completed and Verified Service

Our Completed and Verified Service is the easiest and most straightforward way to do your divorce. For £49 it removes the stress of filling in court forms and the worry of making mistakes.

This service deals with every ground for divorce, and we can help you choose the right one to make your divorce as quick and painless as possible.

It is the perfect solution if you want to file a straightforward divorce and make sure your divorce papers are correct and error-free.

For more information about our Completed and Verified Service click here.

Fully Managed Divorce Service

We understand that any divorce is stressful and painful, which is why we created this service. Our Fully Managed Divorce Service takes the stress out of your divorce process as we deal with everything on your behalf.

You receive all of the benefits that you would typically get from a high street solicitor without the cost.

For £169, we handle everything, including the drafting and filing of all divorce documents with the courts, and communication between the court, your spouse or any opposing solicitors.

There isn’t an easier way to get a divorce. Everything is handled for you, leaving you to carry on with your life while we deal with your divorce.

For more information about our Fully Managed Service click here.

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