What are the legal grounds for divorce?

Arguments, irritating little habits, a lack of attraction and constant stress and despair. People get divorced for all kinds of reasons. Even if they got married in a whirlwind of romance, or they’ve been together for years before they tied the knot, it’s a sad fact that a large percentage of marriages end in divorce and heartbreak. 

There are lots of laws and rulings when it comes to divorce, for example in England and Wales you can only file for divorce after you’ve been married for a minimum of one year. You might think that certain behaviours warrant the commencing of legal proceedings, however, there are only certain circumstances and conditions that will qualify for a divorce.

So, what are legal grounds for divorce? Read on to find out.


Is there anything more distressing than to discover your partner has been having a physical affair with someone else? When it comes to divorce, adultery is common. For the divorce to proceed based on these grounds, the respondent must be able to prove that adultery has taken place and that they can no longer live with their partner due to the revelation. Of course, you don’t have to catch your spouse in the act, however proof such as pregnancy with another person or if they’re living with someone else romantically will add weight to your claim. 

If your spouse denies the claims (which is often the case) and it’s difficult to prove, then you may be required to change your divorce grounds to unreasonable behaviour, which we’ll look at below.

Unreasonable behaviour 

Many different circumstances fall into the unreasonable behaviour bracket. Simply put, unreasonable behaviour is a term that means one partner can no longer live with the other due to their unreasonable behaviours. This could be a range of petty behaviours over a long period, or it could be serious or even criminal acts. You’ll have to draft a series of allegations with your solicitor before it is viewed by a judge. Some couples (if amicable) will often agree on the behaviours. 

Examples include:

  • Domestic abuse
  • Lack of intimacy 
  • Verbal/mental abuse
  • Drunken behaviours 
  • Financial recklessness
  • Respondent working long hours 

Desertion (two years)

If your partner has “deserted” you for at least two years, with no good reason, without warning, or to effectively end your relationship then you may be able to file for desertion. Your partner may argue that they had intended to return after a certain period, but it’s difficult to prove for both parties. This is why many people opt for unreasonable behaviours to get the legal process moving. 

If you don’t know where your ex has gone, then you may need to pay additional fees to locate them so the divorce papers can be served.

Separation for 2 years with consent

Often if there is no fault involved in a relationship and the couple have drifted apart. Then some couples may file for divorce under the grounds of separation for 2 years with consent. You can both agree to the divorce and prove that you live separately and lead separate lives.

Final thoughts

Reach out to a solicitor if you’re considering filing for divorce. 


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