Grounds for Divorce

10 March 2017

People often say Grounds for Divorce but in England and Wales there is only one Ground for Divorce: that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.

When you start divorce proceedings, in order to show to the Court that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, you have to prove one of the following Five Facts of Divorce which are Adultery, 2 or 5 Years Separation, Desertion and Unreasonable Behaviour.

Five Facts of Divorce Explained


Adultery means that your husband or wife has had a sexual relationship with someone else, as a result of which you cannot continue living with them. Generally when using this fact the person who has had the extra-marital sexual relationship will need to formally make an admission in writing.

It's important to note that the adultery must have been with someone of the opposite sex. Furthermore, you cannot begin divorce proceedings if you were the one who committed adultery.

2 Years Separation

A couple can base their divorce on two years separation if they have been separated for two years and they both agree to the divorce being granted.

Normally your separation will begin when one person moves out of the family home. If you have remained living together during your separation – perhaps because of children or financial difficulties – you will need to show that you have been maintaining separate households. This means that you have not been sharing in the day to day activities of the house.

5 Years Separation

Alternatively the person starting the divorce proceedings (called the Petitioner) can rely upon five years of separation. In this situation you do not need the other person to agree to the divorce being granted.


Desertion is when the Petitioner has been deserted by the other person for a least two years. This might happen in a situation where one person leaves the other against their wishes.

Unreasonable Behaviour

You can use the unreasonable behaviour fact if your husband or wife's behaviour is such that you can no longer live with them. Some examples of unreasonable behaviour can include a lack of communication or intimacy, financial difficulties, and excessive socialising. There are many more examples of unreasonable behaviour and it's worth discussing with your Divorce Solicitor the type of reasons that people often use.

In most divorce cases the fact used to start divorce proceedings does not have any real impact on the outcome of divorce-related issues, such as children or financial matters. It's always best, where possible, to agree the divorce fact you are going to use before starting divorce proceedings, as this will help you to avoid future difficulties.

Divorce Advice

One of our Family Law and Divorce Solicitors can discuss the five facts of divorce with you, suggesting what would be the most appropriate for you to use in your situation. We offer a limited amount of initial divorce advice by phone and will be happy to help you.

We also offer an immediate appointment with a Divorce Solicitor by phone, followed up with a detailed and comprehensive consultation with you the next business day.

You will be given initial divorce advice based on your situation right away, then before the end of the next business day a Divorce Solicitor will have provided you with all your available options, so you can make an informed decision about the best way to proceed.

This fixed fee divorce advice service costs £240 including VAT.

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