Divorce | The Basics

Christmas and the New Year is a time of family celebrations but can often be a time when relationship tensions come to a head, causing couples to cogitate separation and divorce. 

The process is at first glance bewildering. However there is one ground for divorce, this being that a marriage has irretrievably broken down, the reason for this being based on one of five facts:

1. Adultery

2. Unreasonable behaviour

3. Desertion for at least 2 years before the proceedings are started

4. That parties have lived apart for a continuous period of two years, and there is agreement there should be a divorce

5. That parties have lived apart for a continuous period of 5 years by the time the proceedings start.

To explain the most used grounds:

Adultery occurs when one party to the marriage has sexual intercourse with a person of the opposite sex. It is unnecessary to name the “third party” and worth noting that civil partners and same sex married couples cannot use this reason.

‘Unreasonable behaviour’ can be used as a ground where one party has behaved in such a way that the other cannot reasonably be expected to live with the other. “Unreasonable Behaviour” is often not what the title suggests - for instance problems such as the parties no longer share any common interests, lead separate lives and no longer show any love or affection for each other.

In cases where couples decide to separate before cogitating divorce proceedings, they can, once they have been separated for a continuous period of two years, provided they agree. 

Some other points are:

• divorce proceedings cannot be started until you have been married a year;

• the legal process is the same whichever ground you use; and 

• it is usual to agree the basis of a divorce before the court process begins. 

Stephen Williams
T: 01473 849950
E: stephen.williams@ashtonslegal.co.uk

Stephen is head of the Family team at Ashtons and a member of the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) Advanced Family Law and Children Panel Accreditation Scheme.