A Quick Look at Grounds for Divorce

If you want to divorce your husband or wife, you need to give the court a good reason. Here are the current grounds for divorce in the UK.


If your spouse has sex with a member of the opposite sex or engages in an ongoing relationship of that nature, this is adultery.

The law states that it has to be a heterosexual relationship and it has to be genuinely sexual: if the relationship is same-sex, or is heterosexual but platonic, you cannot request a divorce on the grounds of adultery. You could, however, be granted a divorce on the grounds of ‘unreasonable behaviour’ (which you’ll read about in the next section).

If the scenario does qualify legally as adultery, you need to stop living with your spouse and/or file for divorce within six months of you finding out about their cheating.

If you stick with them for longer than six months after you find out and then decide you want a divorce, you won’t be able to get one – not on the grounds of adultery, anyway. Sticking with your spouse after you find out about their cheating indicates – in the eyes of the law – that you either condone their cheating or are willing to move on from it.

Unreasonable Behaviour

In addition to same-sex relationships and heterosexual-yet-platonic relationships, you can claim unreasonable behaviour if your spouse has:

a) Physically abused you or threatened to do so
b) Verbally or psychologically abused you
c) Indulged in drink and drugs to an extent that it has irreversibly damaged your relationship
d) Refused to financially contribute to the upkeep of the household


The following scenarios are considered matrimonial desertion:

• Your spouse has left you without giving you a reason
• Your spouse has left you without your agreement
• Your spouse has left you for more than two years out of the last two and a half years


If you’ve not lived with your spouse for more than two years, you can divorce them if they agree to it in writing.

On the other hand, if you’ve lived apart from your spouse for five or more years, you can divorce them whether they agree to it or not.


If You Need Help, Contact Our Divorce Solicitors

Of course, there’s much more to requesting and getting a divorce than having reasonable grounds. You need the advice of an expert lawyer who has empathy for your situation and consideration for your feelings. At Slater Heelis we have such lawyers.

We have offices across Manchester and Cheshire, and we successfully handle divorce cases on an extremely regular basis.

If you’re unsure whether you have legal grounds for a divorce, we can tell you – so get in touch. Call 0161 969 3131 to talk to us directly, or fill in our contact form and we’ll quickly get back to you.