Grounds for divorce

Our team of Family Solicitors can help you to obtain the divorce advice you need.

The first step is to establish that:-

  • Your marriage has broken down irretrievably

The court will accept one of the following as proof that marriage has broken down. These are known as the grounds for divorce and one must apply to your case:

Adultery and intolerability

Your partner has committed adultery and you find it intolerable to live with them. Admission or proof by your partner is required for this ground. This ground can be used even if you still live with your partner. However after discovering that your partner has committed adultery and you continue to live together for a period of more than 6 months then this ground cannot be used. Unless it is then proven that adultery is still continuing.


This is the most common ground used in divorce proceedings in England.

In this case, your partner has behaved in such a way that you cannot reasonably be expected to live with them. In this instance, the courts make a judgement of your partner’s behaviour and its effect on you. Many allegations can be covered by ‘unreasonable behaviour’ therefore your petition needs to evidently set out the key things that have made you difficult to live with your partner.


In this case, your partner has deserted you without agreement or good reason, for a continuous period of 2 years or more.

Two years’ separation and consent

In this case, you and your partner have been living separately from your partner for more than 2 years and you both agree to the divorce.

In addition, you can live together for periods of time leading to the divorce petition however these periods cannot add up to more than 6 months in total. The period spent apart from your partner must add up to at least 2 years in total.

Five years’ separation

If you have lived apart from your partner for more than 5 years’ then this ground applies to you. In this case, it is not necessary for your partner to consent to the divorce.

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