In order to obtain a divorce, the petitioner must show that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. This is proved by one of 5 ‘facts’, namely unreasonable behaviour, adultery, desertion, two years’ separation with consent and five years’ separation where consent from the other party is not required. At present there is no such thing as a ‘no-fault divorce’ in England and Wales unless you have been separated for 2 years and so one party has to ‘blame’ the other for the breakdown of their marriage.
More than half of women and more than one third of men who petition for divorce cite their ex-partner’s unreasonable behaviour, making it the most common ground for divorce. But what does ‘unreasonable behaviour’ actually mean? Unreasonable behaviour can cover a whole range of actions and it is subjective in nature. It is about the effect the behaviour has on the petitioner. Some common examples include a lack of support around the house, working long hours or not socialising together. More serious allegations could include emotional or physical abuse or dissipating the family’s finances.
A petitioner should provide several examples of such behaviour and explain the impact it has had on them. If parties are seeking an amicable resolution, the particulars of the unreasonable behaviour could be agreed in advance of the petitioner being filed at court.
It is important to note that the reason for divorce will rarely affect the distribution of finances following the divorce.