Grounds For Divorce

To prove that the marriage has irretrievably broken down you must establish one or more of the following grounds. But don't worry too much, we will talk you through these when you instruct our specialist divorce solicitors.


Adultery is sexual intercourse with someone of the opposite sex. You cannot divorce your spouse based on your own adultery. Adultery can be used as the ground for the divorce petition whether or not you and your spouse are living together but if you continue to live together as a couple for more than 6 months after you found out about the adultery then it cannot be relied upon as a ground. It is recommended that you do not embark upon a divorce using this ground unless your spouse is prepared to sign a form admitting the adultery.

Unreasonable Behaviour

This is by far the most common ground for divorce. You must show that your spouse has behaved in such a way that you cannot reasonably be expected to live with him/her. It is usual to include around 4 or 5 examples of unreasonable behaviour in the petition.

Examples of unreasonable behaviour can include:

  • Lack of love and affection/lack of interest in a physical relationship
  • Neglect
  • Putting career before relationship
  • Criticism/nagging
  • Excessive jealousy
  • Violence
  • Drinking/drug abuse
  • Failure to help with children/help around the house
  • Financial irresponsibility
  • Inappropriate relationships with other men/women.

Using this ground your spouse does not actually have to admit to the behaviour specified in the Petition but you need to know that your spouse will not contest the ground used.


Your spouse must have intentionally deserted you without just cause and without your consent for a period of at least 2 years preceding the presentation of the Petition. You do not need your spouse to specifically agree to the ground of desertion but check that he/she will not contest it.

2 years separation with consent

You and your spouse must have lived separately and apart for at least 2 years immediately preceding the presentation of the Petition and your spouse must consent to the divorce proceeding using this ground.

5 years separation

You and your spouse must have lived apart for 5 years immediately preceding the presentation of the Petition. Your spouse does not need to agree to you using this ground.

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