Desertion can be used as a ground for divorce if your husband or wife leaves without a good reason or disappears. They must intend to end the relationship and the period of desertion must be for at least 2 years.
Example: Alex and Sophie have been married for many years and one morning Alex says he’s leaving and moves out. After a year, Alex comes back for a month but then once again decides to leave. After another year has passed, Sophie petitions for divorce on the ground of desertion.
Although Alex has come back within the necessary 2-year desertion period, they are allowed to live together for up to 6 months during the 2-year period and still rely on desertion as a ground for divorce.
Desertion is rarely used as the deserted husband or wife is more likely to rely on unreasonable behaviour for a quicker divorce.
2 Years Separation with Consent
Unlike adultery and unreasonable behaviour, the basis of 2 years separation for divorce is not based on fault. The married couple must have been separated for at least 2 years, and both must freely consent to divorce and agree in writing.
The main problem with grounds that are conditional on “time spent separated” is that people aren’t always willing to wait this long, especially as financial claims need to be dealt with. Amicable parties that both agree on getting a divorce often need to instead rely on a fault-based ground like unreasonable behaviour.
5 Years Separation without Consent
If one spouse wants a divorce but the other won’t consent, you can get a divorce without the consent of the other person if you’ve been separated for at least 5 years. This length of time can be problematic for some as you can’t remarry for some time or move on, and in reality, it’s very rarely used as a basis for divorce.