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Examples of unreasonable behaviour in a divorce

If you want to file for a divorce and must rely on unreasonable behaviour, it’s likely that you’ve scoured Google and other search engines for examples that the court will find acceptable and have come up empty handed. We know this because we’ve conducted several searches ourselves and have been unable to find anything that could be described as even remotely useful to people conducting such searches.

As unreasonable behaviour is now the most common reason for divorce in England and Wales, we thought we’d provide you with an in-depth explanation of what unreasonable behaviour is within the context of divorce along with several acceptable examples of it:

What is unreasonable behaviour

Put simply, unreasonable behaviour is any kind of behaviour that is displayed by the Respondent that, within reason, left the Petitioner feeling that they could no longer remain married to them.

Considering this, it’s hardly surprising that many people assume that they won’t be able to clear the legal hurdles posed when relying on this in order to obtain a divorce. They often believe that they must be able to cite several examples of behaviour that could objectively be deemed abhorrent such as violence, verbal abuse, drug addiction etc. Whilst each of these would indeed be acceptable examples of unreasonable behaviour, far milder examples are acceptable too.

Ultimately, any example of behaviour that left you feeling you could not remain married to the Respondent and where the most recent example took place within the six-month period that preceded your separation is, within reason, fine.

Time limitations

As we’ve stated previously, any example you provide must have taken place within the six-month period that preceded your separation. So, if you separated in July 2017 and are referring to a single incident of unreasonable behaviour (being rude to a member of your family, for example) then this must have taken place in February 2017 or later (but not after the date on which you separated).

If you’re referring to behaviour that was ongoing (which is, in our experience, the norm) then the last example must have taken place within this six-month period. Most examples, though, would simply state when the behaviour began before adding that it was ongoing throughout the remainder of the marriage up to the date of separation.

Five common examples

Here are the five most used examples of unreasonable behaviour we see at Quickie Divorce:

Lack of affection

As couples who are experiencing marital difficulties tend to become increasingly distant, this is an example of unreasonable behaviour that is consistently cited, with Petitioners generally relying on a lack of non-intimate physical contact to warrant its inclusion.

Failing to communicate

Again, couples tend to become less and less communicative as martial satisfaction wains so this is another reason petitioners regularly use. Here, it’s vital that you can state that you informed the Respondent of the fact that you felt they weren’t making appropriate efforts to communicate but they failed to change.

Refusing to socialise

It’s difficult when one spouse is more sociable than the other. Yes, some couples can make such arrangements work but, for many others, socialising without their significant other is a source of frustration and embarrassment. This is why it’s very common for Petitioners to state that their spouses simply refused to socialise as a couple.

Again, you’ll need to have told your spouse that you were unhappy about this and that it didn’t bring about a change in their behaviour.

Disagreements over money

Whether the respondent spends money without a care in the world or is excessively frugal, disagreements over finances are another common example of unreasonable behaviour.

So, if you’ve ever informed your spouse that you thought that they need to reign in their spending or loosen the purse strings a little bit and they simply didn’t listen or consider compromising, you’ve another example of unreasonable behaviour.

Failing to help around the house

It may be surprising, but some people still believe that one spouse should be responsible for all household chores and it really isn’t hard to see why someone would find this to be unreasonable.

If necessary, this reason can even be broken down into failing/being unwilling to help with more specific household tasks such as cooking, cleaning, shopping, driving children to events and so on. This should only be done if they failed to help in one specific area, though, and you should resist the temptation to use more than one of these examples.

Provided you requested help with the tasks and received none, though, any one of these is a perfectly acceptable reason.


It’s important to remember that you’re going to need to use at least four examples of the Respondent’s unreasonable behaviour and that you also state how their behaviour made you feel. A typical example would therefore read:

For the past three years, and ongoing until the date of separation, the Respondent refused to assist the Petitioner with household chores. The Petitioner regularly informed the Respondent that they felt that this was unfair but the Petitioner refused to provide help. This left the Petitioner feeling unappreciated and unsupported.


So, as you can see, you won’t need to portray your spouse as a monster in order to obtain a divorce on the basis of unreasonable behaviour. If you and your spouse consent to a divorce and haven’t yet been separated for two years, this means that you won’t need to wait and can get a divorce by using this ground. We’d recommend that you and your spouse agree to the reasons and your statement beforehand, though, as this will ensure that they’re happy to agree to any reasons mentioned in the petition.

If this article hasn’t answered your questions about unreasonable behaviour or you have any other questions about divorce in England and Wales, click here to get in touch with one of our advisers today.

Comments 4

Me and me husband split up almost 6 years ago due to him cheating but a year later we decided to give it a try but he never move back in to the home but in October of last year I had enough of him I found out he been taking cocaine again so I've finished it we have 3 children age 21 ,19, 5 I've had to stop him seeing the 5 year old due to him saying really horrible things that a 5 year old dose not need to hear so I was just wondering do I have a case for a divorce and what do I do next

Debbie Hudson

Hello, Thank you for your comment. It would certainly seem like you do have valid grounds for a divorce. Please call us on 0800 803 0813 and we'll discuss this with you further.

QD Admin

My husband was seeing another woman for a year,would leave the house at 6pm and returne between 1 and 2am five nights a week,he says they were just friends, our marriage became violent on both sides and ended up him punching me in the head and leaving me with concussion, he was arrested and I went to court and now have a non malestation order. Would this be a case for a quickie divorce and what happens if he contests it?

Andrea watson

Hello, you would appear to be able to divorce on the grounds of possibly with adultery or unreasonable behaviour.

QD Admin