There is only one ground for divorce under English Law and that is irretrievable break down of marriage. The Petitioner has to prove to the Court that the marriage has irretrievably broken down and he or she can do that by relying on one of five different facts, that the Respondent (the other party to the divorce) has behaved unreasonably, has committed adultery, has deserted the Petitioner for more than two years, or that the Petitioner and the Respondent have lived apart for more than two years and the Respondent gives consent to the divorce, or that the Petitioner and Respondent have lived apart for more than five years.
The Petitioner, who is the person starting the divorce, must prove to the Court that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. A Petition cannot be presented to the Court until the parties have been married for at least one year.
If the Petitioner is relying upon her husband/wife’s unreasonable behaviour to prove the marriage has irretrievably broken down he or she will have to give details in the Petition of that behaviour. The Petitioner does not have to provide independent evidence to support the statement in the Divorce Petition. If the Respondent (the other party to the divorce) chooses not to defend the divorce, the divorce will proceed if the Judge is satisfied that the Respondent has indeed behaved unreasonably.
Many couples who have been separated for more than two years prefer to petition for divorce relying on the fact that they have lived apart for the at period time to prove the at their marriage has irretrievably broken down. In these cases they are often known as “no fault divorces” because the Petitioner does not have to blame the Respondent for behaving unreasonably or for committing adultery and can rely simply on the fact that the marriage is over because they have lived apart for more than two years. The Respondent will have to give his consent to the divorce however but if a Petition for divorce is presented to the Court on the basis that the parties have lived apart for more than five years, the Respondent’s consent is not necessary.
Many couples decide to separate and choose not to divorce until they have lived apart for a period of time. This is perfectly acceptable if it suits both parties. If however one party is anxious to dissolve the marriage, and the other party has behaved unreasonably or committed adultery, the a Petition for divorce can be presented at any time i.e. before the parties have lived apart for any set period of time.
Family Law Specialists
Hello, I am Sarah Chan and I am the Head of Seatons Solicitors Family Law Department in Corby, Northamptonshire.
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