What are the Legal Reasons for Divorce?


What are the Legal Reasons for Divorce?

For anyone considering a divorce, the emotional turmoil of reaching this decision is often made significantly more difficult by the complicated processes that surround a divorce application.

Every divorce granted within England and Wales must adhere to one of the five ‘facts’ stipulated by law, and it can be incredibly difficult to wade through paragraphs of legal jargon on your own. While we look into these facts in more detail below, it is important to remember that working with a divorce solicitor or lawyer from the very beginning remains incredibly important, in order to ensure that you do not undermine or complicate the process inadvertently.

Also important to remember is the fact that every divorce is unique, and that working with a local firm will ensure that those questions exclusive to your case can be answered as quickly as possible. For instance, if you are based in Gloucestershire, then being able to turn to divorce solicitors in Cheltenham means that you won’t have to travel hours just to find reassurance, guidance or help when you need it – and when Google searches simply won’t suffice.

Read more below.


Inarguably one of the most common reasons for divorce – although it is not as easy to prove as you might think, and it is not entirely common for individuals to pursue another fact for divorce as a result of lack of proof.

The premise is simple enough: your partner must have had sex with a member of the opposite sex, during the course of your marriage. It is important to note that this stipulation automatically precludes same sex affairs (even if you are in a same sex marriage) and emotional affairs, or instances of adultery wherein sexual contact (rather than actual intercourse) was made.

It also comes with a time limitation – specifically, you must file for a divorce within six months of learning about the affair.

An individual’s greatest difficulty also lies in proving the affair took place. Circumstantial evidence is not enough to prove sexual intercourse happened, and only legally binding confirmation from your ex-partner will be treated as sufficient proof in this situation.

Unreasonable Behaviour

This represents a much less rigid fact for divorce, comprising an incredibly broad spectrum of transgressions and behaviours that range from substance abuse and financial irresponsibility to emotional absenteeism and physical and verbal abuse.

It is for this reason that instances of disloyalty are so often ascribed to unreasonable behaviour, rather than adultery – whether there is only circumstantial evidence, the respondent’s betrayal is more emotional than physical, or the affair took place between two members of the same sex.

While there are many examples of unreasonable behaviour, its use remains open to the individual, and the evidence they have of an irredeemable marriage.

For this reason, the petitioner should gather as much evidence as possible in order to build a strong application when the time comes.


This one is, in all likelihood, the most self-explanatory. If an individual has been deserted by their partner for a period of two years, then they can apply for divorce without needing to provide any additional facts.

If the respondent has returned to the marital home for a period equal to (or less than) six months during this two year period, then desertion can still be provided as a fact for divorce. Any longer, however, and desertion cannot be claimed.

Two Years’ Separation

Similarly, if a couple voluntarily separates for a period of two years – and both agree on pursuing a divorce – this can be used as a reason in and of itself, and is often seen as the more amicable approach to divorce.

This fact does not necessarily mean that couples must live apart – rather, that they are leading ‘separate lives’ even if they continue to dwell within the same property.

Five Years’ Separation

If your ex-partner does not agree to your request for a divorce on the basis of a two-year separation, then a period of five years’ must be undertaken in order to provide the courts with sufficient proof that your marriage cannot be redeemed.

After these five years, you can be granted a divorce even if your ex-partner continued to dispute the application.

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