Grounds for divorce in the UK

In order to be able to divorce in the UK you must meet a number of requirements and you must indicate a clear reason for your divorce.

Firstly, in order to be eligible to divorce, you must meet the below requirements:

  • You must have been married for at least 12 months prior to filing for divorce
  • To get divorced in the UK one spouse must be living in England or Wales, or temporarily living abroad whilst still considering England or Wales as their permanent home
  • You must be able to qualify for one of the below grounds for divorce

You cannot indicate your own reason for divorcing, as clear grounds for divorce have been outlined. You must be able to satisfy the court that you qualify for the chosen ground for divorce.

  1. Adultery

Under current law you must be able to prove that your spouse has had sexual intercourse with another person of the opposite sex. There is no clear legislation on those having sexual intercourse with the same sex or those who have ‘cheated’ but that did not have sexual intercourse.

  1. Unreasonable behaviour

This is the most common ground for divorce in the UK. To qualify on this ground, you must be able to prove that your ex has behaved in such a way that it can’t be reasonably expected for you to remain living with them.

  1. Desertion

This ground is only used in very rare circumstances. In order to qualify you must be able to prove that your spouse has had a mental intent to divorce throughout a specific time period, in which they had ‘deserted’ you:

  • 2-year separation

If both you and your partner have agreed to live apart for at least a 2-year period, then this will be a valid ground for divorce

  • 5-year separation

Even if your former partner does not consent to the divorce, if you have been separated for a period of 5 years, you can get divorced.

No-fault divorce

It is likely that in the near future it will be possible to get a no-fault divorce in the UK, instead of having to meet one of the above grounds. Couples that don’t want to wait years to be able to divorce are currently forced into a position where they have to blame the other either for adultery or unreasonable behaviour, which can cause more friction within a family at an already difficult time.

To protect families from complex and toxic divorce battles the government is planning on introducing the no fault divorce as an option to separating couples.

A logical step, as in many cases couples do not break up for one specific reason, or as a result of one person’s behaviour. If two people agree it is best for all involved to live apart, they should have the option to do so.

Family law solicitors can help you assess your personal circumstances and guide you through the complexities of UK divorce. You may need to get in place financial settlements and child agreements, and you may need additional support if you need an Islamic divorce in the UK. A family law solicitor can help you with the full process and handle all your matters in one place.

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