Grounds for Divorce

What is Divorce?

Divorce is an action filed in court, seeking to dissolve the marriage of the parties involved.  The parties to an action for divorce are the husband and wife, either or both of them seeking to legally end their marriage.

Effects of Divorce

Divorce severs all legal relations, including the bonds of matrimony that existed between the husband and wife. This also terminates the rights and obligations expected between spouses.

Upon issuance of a divorce decree by the court which handled the case, all the legal relations between the spouses are terminated and they are restored to their respective status as before the marriage.

Ground for Divorce in the UK

In England and Wales, you can only file for divorce if you have been married to your spouse for at least one year. There is only one ground for divorce, which is the irretrievable breakdown of a marriage. This ground is established by invoking and proving one or more of these facts:


This fact takes the nature of marital infidelity where you have knowledge that your spouse has had full sexual intercourse with a person from the opposite sex and you find it intolerable to continue living with him or her.

You must file a petition for divorce within six months from knowledge of such fact, regardless of whether both you and your spouse are still living together or not. But after the lapse of such period, you can no longer invoke this as a basis because you have failed to show that living with your spouse is intolerable from the date that you learnt of the act of infidelity.

This fact can be proved either by actual admission of your spouse or through circumstantial evidence.

Any sexual relation short of a full sexual intercourse cannot be used as a fact and evidence of adultery. The appropriate fact to use would be unreasonable behaviour.

Unreasonable Behaviour

This is a catch-all provision, meaning it is subject to a wide range of interpretation. This fact covers all kinds of behaviour as long as you can prove that you find it unbearable to live with your spouse any longer. No wonder unreasonable behaviour is the most used and abused basis for petitioning the court for divorce in England and Wales.

This provision can cover grave reasons such as physical or verbal abuse to milder yet intolerable reasons such as poor hygiene and too much time spent in career. But mild allegations should not be undermined; this basis paves way for expediting your divorce undertaking.

A typical petition invoking this fact would include about four to six paragraphs of different sorts of unreasonable behaviour allegations.

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For more information on:

  • Two Years’ Desertion
  • Two Years’ Separation with Consent
  • Five Years’ Separation
  • Duration of Divorce Proceedings
  • Divorce Reform Act of 1969