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What are the grounds for divorce in the UK

Each and every single divorce that is filed in England and Wales relies upon one thing: that the marriage in question has irretrievably broken down. In order to prove that the marriage is beyond repair, though, one of five facts must be used. These are:


In order to use this fact, the Petitioner (the person applying for the divorce) should be able to state when they discovered that the Respondent (the party that will be required to respond to documents sent to them by the court) had committed adultery and how they found out.

The Petitioner and Respondent will also need to have separated within six months of the Petitioner having discovered the adultery. We’d also strongly advise that the Petitioner ensures that the Respondent will be willing to confirm that they committed adultery or obtaining the divorce could be problematic. It should be noted, however, that they will not be required to confirm this publicly but within court documentation that will remain private, only.


The ground of desertion can be used when one spouse deserts the other and does not return for a continuous period of two years or more and a reasonable argument that they have no intention of returning is accepted by the court.

As it can be difficult to prove that the deserting spouse has no intention of returning, this reason is very rarely used.

Unreasonable Behaviour

To successfully use unreasonable behaviour as the reason for divorce, the Petitioner will need to cite four to six examples of the Respondent’s unreasonable behaviour. Whilst this can seem daunting, unreasonable behaviour does not need to be extreme and commonly cited examples include failing to provide affection, not helping with household chores and poor attempts at communication.

The Petitioner will be required to state when this behaviour began and ended, however, and any examples that were not still ongoing within the six-month period that preceded the date of separation will not be considered.

Two-Year Separation with Consent

This reason is self-explanatory in that the couple must have been living separately for more than two years and both agree to the divorce.

It is, however, worth clarifying what is meant by separation, though, with the majority of people assuming that this is the date on which they begun living in separate properties when this is not actually the case.

Instead, a couple are separated when they begin living separate lives. So, whilst one party often immediately vacates the matrimonial home when a couple separates, they can still be living separately whilst still sharing a property provided they sleep in separate rooms, prepare and eat their meals separately etc.

Five-Year Separation

This reason is identical to two-year separation, though consent is not necessarily required (though the process is easier if it is) and the parties must have been living separately for five years or more as opposed to two.

Have more questions about divorce in England and Wales? Get in touch with Quickie Divorce today.

Comments 2

I am on benefits and been separated for three years now. We both want a divorce but it was just a breakdown of the marriage. I just want the divorce over quick and I am ill and the stress make my illness worse. So would like to know how much it would be to get divorced thank you.

Kim Bradley

Please call our advisers on 0800 803 0813 - they'll be happy to provide you with more information and answer any question that you may have.

QD Admin