Grounds for Divorce and Facts

Grounds for Divorce and Facts

The main legislation covering divorce law in England & Wales is the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, as amended. In order that we can submit a Divorce Petition for you, you must first establish that you have ‘grounds‘ for a divorce. English law only recognises one ‘ground‘ for divorce. This requires you to show to the court that your marriage has ‘irretrievably broken down’. In simple terms this means that there is no prospect of a reconciliation between you.

To support your ‘grounds‘ for divorce, you must establish at least one of five ‘facts‘. The law provides 5 ‘facts‘ which you can rely on. These are:

  1. The unreasonable behaviour of your spouse
  2. Adultery by your spouse
  3. The fact that you have been separated for at least 2 years and, your spouse agrees to the marriage being dissolved
  4. Desertion by your spouse
  5. 5 years separation

We will advise you which of the above ‘facts’ best suits your circumstances. Where there are financial proceedings, called ‘Ancillary Relief‘, or proceedings about children, these are separate matters in respect of which we can also assist you.

Unreasonable Behaviour

If you are relying on unreasonable behaviour as a ‘fact‘ for your divorce, you will have to satisfy the courts that you can no longer tolerate living with your spouse and that it would be unreasonable for you to be expected to continue living with your spouse. This means that you will have to provide some reasons for relying on this ‘fact‘ as a ground to show that your marriage has irretrievably broken down.

Unreasonable behaviour is perhaps the most commonly used ‘fact‘ in seeking divorce. Establishing ‘facts’ is not always a straightforward matter. You will need to put examples of the unreasonable behaviour in your Petition for divorce. We can advise you whether your particular circumstances are likely to satisfy the court of your spouses unreasonable behaviour through Option A or Option B of our Fixed Fee Assessment. Option A comprises up to 30 minutes FREE telephone or email advice.


Sadly adultery is all too often a cause of divorce. If adultery is relevant to your circumstances then the court will expect your spouse to sign a document admitting this. Where you know that your spouse is unlikely to admit their adultery, then the courts will expect you to prove it. This can be a very complicated and an expensive procedure. However; there is no need to despair. Despite the fact that your spouse may have been adulterous, you may still be able to proceed on the ‘fact‘ of unreasonable behaviour outlined above. We can advise you how best to proceed through Option A or Option B of our Fixed Fee Assessment.

Two Years Separation by Agreement

If your divorce is based on the ‘fact‘ that you have been separated for 2 years from your spouse, then the courts will expect your spouse to sign a document confirming this. If you know that your spouse is willing to sign such a document, then the divorce process can be quite quick and trouble free.

If your circumstances meet this criteria then Option D of our Fixed Fee Assessment would cover all the costs associated with your divorce.

Five Years Separation

Where your divorce petition is based on the ‘fact’ that you have been separated for at least 5 years before the date on which you ‘issue‘ your petition, then the courts will grant you a divorce, with or without your spouses consent. For an assessment of whether this is the most suited procedure for your circumstances, you may wish to proceed via Option A or Option B of our Fixed Fee Assessment.

In most cases divorce procedure is reasonably straightforward. Click here for a summary on divorce procedure.


Should you have any queries about your own personal circumstances, we offer a free 30 minute telephone consultation on 020 8401 7352. Contact us for guidance and advice relating to your particular circumstances. The information provided in this article is general information only and it is not intended that you should rely on this information as advice relating to your specific circumstances. Divorce is a potentially complex legal process and you should always ensure that you receive independent legal advice specific to your particular circumstances from a qualified adviser.

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