Are you familiar with the phrase “irretrievably broken down”? It sounds very conclusive and final and, at least in the terms of family law, it is. If your “happily ever after” didn’t turn out so happy or ever after and you’ve decided to file for a divorce, it’s essential you learn about your rights and responsibilities in the divorce process. Namely, in order to prove grounds for one, you have to provide evidence your marriage has been exactly that – irretrievably broken down.
There are five main categories that underlie the foundation of a divorce proceeding. In order to untie the knot of your marriage union, you have to able to prove at least one of the following:
- That your spouse has committed adultery
In the eyes of the law, adultery is when your husband or wife has sex with someone else of the opposite sex, which makes you unable to live with them any longer. This ground is usually proved by your spouse admitting that they have committed adultery.
Keep in mind that, as illogical as dumbfounding as it may be, your spouse having sex with someone of the same sex doesn’t count as adultery. (This condition applies only if you’re in a same-sex marriage.) Another note for caution: You can’t give adultery as a reason if you lived with your husband or wife for six months after you found out about it. So, if you’ve been cheated on and are intended to part ways with your husband or wife, don’t drag your feet around for too long. It can look bad in court and potentially wipe out your grounds for divorce.
- That your spouse has behaved unreasonably
Unreasonable behaviour has ballooned as a cause of divorce, and is now accounting for almost one-half (47%) of all divorces. For behaviour to qualify as unreasonable, as the Government states, “your husband or wife behaved so badly that you can no longer bear to live with them.” This could include physical violence, verbal abuse, excessive jealousy, lack of affection, drunkenness or drug-taking, refusing to pay for housekeeping, etc. If the allegations are serious, e.g. violence, then one or two allegations may suffice in order to get your request granted. If the allegations are mild, you may need to go a longer way to get solid divorce grounds, and amass up to five or six allegations.
- That your spouse has deserted you for a period of two years
You’ll have desertion grounds if your husband or wife has left you:
- without your agreement
- without a good reason
- to end your relationship
- for more than 2 years in the past 2.5 years
Please note that you can be deserted even if your spouse lives in the same house as you – what matters is you are no longer living together as a married couple. The Government allows you to still claim desertion if you have lived together for up to a total of six months in this period.
- That you and your spouse have been separated for two years and your spouse consents to the divorce
You can get a divorce if you’ve lived apart for more than two years and both agree to the divorce, and your husband or wife must agree in writing. If you and your spouse are separated but still live in the same property, this can be a tricky one: the court will have to take a look into your living arrangements, and based upon this information decide whether you are legally separate or not.
- That you and your spouse have been separated for five years
Living apart for more than five years is usually enough to get a divorce, even if your husband or wife disagrees with the divorce. Same as in the previous case, if you and your spouse are separated but still live in the same home, the court will inspect the living arrangements and see if you qualify as legally separated.
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