Grounds for Divorce - Examples of Unreasonable Behaviour

Chris Fairhurst
Author:
Chris Fairhurst
Partner, Family Law and Divorce Solicitor
Date:
14/05/2021

There is only one Ground for Divorce - that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. To prove this, you have to give one of five reasons.

They are:

  • Adultery
  • Unreasonable behavior
  • Desertion
  • Separation for 2 years with agreement
  • Separation for 5 years

According to the Office for National Statistics, unreasonable behaviour is the most common reason given for divorce, for both same-sex and opposite-sex couples. See examples of unreasonable behaviour.

This is likely because unreasonable behaviour provides the broadest scope of options as it covers a number of issues that can arise during a marriage, and is not limited by the duration of separation.

We understand that going through a divorce or separation can be difficult, and the last thing you need is to be playing the blame game when filling out the divorce application, which is why it’s best you get expert legal advice before you consider doing so.

If you’d like legal advice from one of our Divorce Solicitors get in touch for a free initial chat today.

Call us on 08002605010 or request a callback and we will help you.

The reality is that the reason you give in the divorce application won’t usually affect any decisions the Court might have to make about your finances and child care arrangements, unless it’s particularly serious, for example if there is a suggestion of financial misconduct in a financial case, or allegation of any kind of abuse in a children case.

And our Divorce Solicitors have seen that the reason given in the divorce petition can sometimes cause conflict in the divorce process, which is why we look forward to the No Fault Divorce Bill which has recently been passed in Government and should come into force within the next year.

With the No Fault Divorce Bill, couples can rely upon the reason for their divorce as simply being that the relationship has broken down, and you can jointly apply for the divorce too.

Examples of Unreasonable Behaviour

No one should have to put up with unreasonable behaviour in a relationship, especially as it’s likely to be having an impact on your wellbeing and home life. Often, couples separate simply because they grow apart or they both behaved in a way that the other person didn’t agree with, and although they don’t necessarily want to rely on the other’s behaviour to start a divorce, many often do so simply to move matters on.

It’s important to remember that there’s no set list for what unreasonable behaviour is. Every relationship is different and there can be many reasons why your marriage or civil partnership has broken down. But here are some of the most common examples of unreasonable behaviour that our Divorce Solicitors see:

  • Abuse - this includes domestic abuse (including physical violence), emotional abuse (such as manipulation and controlling behaviour), and verbal abuse (including shouting and belittling)

  • Debts/irresponsible with money - money can be the cause of many arguments in relationships, particularly if one of you is reckless with your joint finances. And if your ex ends up racking up debts, this can cause irreparable damage to your relationship

  • Drunkenness - if your ex drinks to an excessive amount and/or takes drugs, then this would come under unreasonable behaviour

  • Excessive habits - if your ex spends an obsessive amount of time gambling, playing games or using social media, this can cause strain and distance between you

  • Inappropriate relationship with another person - adultery alone is already one of the grounds for divorce, but an inappropriate relationship doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing. It might be that your husband or wife’s relationship with someone else makes you feel uncomfortable, even if they’ve not physically acted on this

  • Lack of socialising - while it’s common to have different interests and friend groups who you socialise with, marriages and civil partnerships can break down if you spend too much time socialising without each other, and can lead to one or both of you feeling neglected

  • Lack of support - this can include physical support, such as childcare and/or household chores, emotional support, or support with life choices e.g. a career change

Again, it’s important to remember that the Court isn’t concerned about why you’re getting a divorce, but if any of the above sounds familiar, you may want to put ‘Unreasonable Behaviour’ as the reason for your divorce application.

Is there a Time Limit?

If you want to divorce your ex on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour, you must not have cohabited (lived) with them for more than 6 months after the last alleged incident of unreasonable behaviour. Otherwise, you’d need to rely on more recent incidents if you’ve continued to live together.

But don’t worry, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to have been living in separate houses – it might be that you still live together but you live separate lives e.g. sleeping in different beds and providing for yourself rather than each other.

One of our Divorce Solicitors can advise you on what your options are and whether an unreasonable divorce petition is appropriate. For more information see What are Legal Grounds for Divorce?

We recommend getting expert legal advice if you need help with your divorce application, and starting the divorce proceedings as soon as you’re ready.

One of our Divorce Solicitors will be happy to talk through your situation with you, offering guidance that’s tailored to your individual circumstances. And if your reason for divorce has sparked arguments between you and your ex, we can work with you both to help you reach an amicable agreement.

For initial legal advice call our Family Law and Divorce Solicitors

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