What Are The Grounds For Divorce? | Howells Solicitors
Make a payment

What are the grounds for divorce?

Howells Solicitors

19 Nov, 2021

As the current law stands, to apply for a divorce you must do so on the grounds that the relationship has irretrievably broken down by giving one or more of the following 5 reasons, otherwise known as ‘facts’.

You can apply for a divorce based on any of the following 5 reasons;

  1. Adultery
    This is the legal term for a husband or wife having sexual relations (specifically intercourse) with someone else of the opposite sex. However, this cannot be given as a reason for divorce if you continued living as a couple for more than 6 months after discovering the infidelity. Your spouse must admit the adultery. Please also note this cannot be used by same sex couples.
  2. Unreasonable behaviour
    You can apply for a divorce on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour if your spouse has acted in such a way that it would be unreasonable for you to be expected to continue living with them. This behaviour could include one or more of the following;
    –  Domestic abuse – this can be either physical violence or verbal abuse such as your spouse making threats or insults.
    –  If your spouse has a regular behavioural pattern of alcohol or drug abuse.
    –  If your spouse refuses to contribute towards shared living expenses.
    Your spouse does not have to admit to the behaviour, but they do have the opportunity to defend the divorce if they disagree with your stated reasons.
  3. Desertion
    This is the legal term for if your husband or wife has left you, without reasonable excuse, for at least 2 years before you apply for divorce.
  4. Long term separation
    If you and your spouse have been separated for at least 2 years before applying for a divorce and you both agree to it. You may still be able to prove that you’ve been separated whilst living in the same property as long as you can show that you are not living together as a ‘couple’, i.e. that you do not eat, sleep or spend time together.
  5. You’ve been separated for at least 5 years.
    You do not require the consent of your spouse to rely on this fact.

2022 update to the grounds for divorce

There is an update to divorce proceedings due in April 2022, which will see the introduction of the ‘no fault divorce’. This will allow couples to apply for a divorce without having to assign blame under the original grounds for divorce.

What is a no fault divorce?

You will still be required to demonstrate the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage but will do so by way of a “statement of irretrievable breakdown”. This means that you will no longer have to rely on a particular “fact” (as those grounds for divorce listed above) to demonstrate the breakdown.

In many cases, couples want a divorce because the love has been lost within the marriage, or the circumstances have changed to such an extent within a relationship that people wish to go their own separate ways. From April, there will no longer be a need to engage in any “blame game”.

What are the benefits of a no fault divorce?

Many people have found themselves having to wait 2 years to obtain a divorce if nobody was necessarily at fault. This often meant that people were in limbo and were often separated but still tied to their ex-partner. People will no longer have to wait 2 years if they wish to obtain a divorce amicably.

The new law will also remove the ability for one spouse to contest the decision to divorce if they do not agree with the reasons for divorce, therefore avoiding lengthy and unnecessary contested court proceedings.

Therefore, from April 2022, you will no longer have to demonstrate that a party is to blame. Often people feel as though they have to “jump through hoops” to get a divorce. That will no longer be necessary.

It will also remove any inequality in the law for same-sex partners who previously could not rely on the ground of adultery, putting all persons on an equal footing when obtaining a divorce.

Achieving an amicable divorce

The purpose of the change in the law is to ensure that matters remain as amicable as possible. There will even be an option for parties to make a joint application for divorce. This should help to prevent unnecessary animosity. It could assist to ensure that other issues stemming from divorce, such as arrangements for the children and settling the finances, can be dealt with from a position whereby nobody is blaming the other for the breakdown of the marriage.

Under the current legal framework, there is still the option to claim your costs from your spouse in a divorce. However, it remains to be seen as to how the court will deal with these applications where nobody is technically “at fault.”

All in all, it should be a welcome development and brings the divorce legislation up to date with the modern era.

If you are separated and looking to get a divorce, our team of experts are here to help. We know it can be worrying contacting a divorce solicitor but you’ll find our team approachable and easy to talk to. We also offer a free 30 minute appointment to all new clients. For more information see Divorce and Separation, call us on 0114 249 6666 or email enquiries@howellsllp.com 

Protect Your Home from Care Fees

Government concludes no major reform for Inheritance Tax and Capital Gains Tax