What do you do if you come to the conclusion that your marriage is at an end and you wish to divorce?

Contrary to TV portrayals where marriage and divorce sometimes seem possible in a single day, it’s not that simple.

In English and Wales the first hurdle to overcome is to have been married for at least one year; this may seem short to some, but as cohabitation rates rise and marriage rates fall, some people will decide to marry having already lived together for many years.

To start a divorce you must evidence that the marriage has ‘irretrievably broken-down’. There are five things you can rely on to do this:

  • Adultery;
  • Unreasonable behaviour;
  • Two years separation with consent;
  • Desertion; or
  • Five years separation.

In most divorces we see the parties have not been separated long enough to rely on anything other than adultery or unreasonable behaviour.

As you can imagine, if handled badly, being presented with an adultery or unreasonable behavior petition can sometimes make an already difficult situation worse. In the majority of situations it is possible to avoid that.

The ground of unreasonable behaviour is one of the most frequently used. This requires that you set out five or six examples of your spouse’s ‘unreasonable behaviour’.

The law in England & Wales becomes less fault-based if you’ve been separated for two years or longer and arguably provides for a more amicable dissolution.

If you are thinking about divorce and want to speak to someone about trying to make the process as comfortable as possible speak to one of our experienced and supportive solicitors today.

Alara is a paralegal at Stephens Scown, presently providing support to the Family team in Exeter.  If you would like to contact the team about the content in this article, then please call 01392 210700 or email family.exeter@stephens-scown.co.uk.