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What are the reasons for divorce?

When applying for a divorce, you’ll need to provide your reasons for divorce, also known as “grounds”.

In this article, we’ll explain the reasons for divorce that can be used in England and Wales and discuss when it may be appropriate to use them.


What can be the reasons for divorce?

In order to get a divorce, you will have to prove that your marriage has irretrievably broken down.

When making the application for divorce, you will need to provide one or more of 5 possible reasons for divorce.

reasons for divorce


Reasons for divorce 1: Unreasonable behaviour

Unreasonable behaviour is the most commonly used ground for divorce in England and Wales, according to the latest ONS data.

In order to use this as grounds for divorce, you will need to prove that your spouse has behaved in such a way that you cannot reasonably be expected to live with them.

There is no list of what constitutes unreasonable behaviour. Examples of unreasonable behaviour could include a spouse regularly getting drunk or refusing to pay towards the housekeeping.


Reasons for divorce 2: Adultery

If your spouse has had sexual intercourse with another person of the opposite sex, you may choose this as your reason for divorce. Note that this is sexual intercourse with someone of the opposite sex only; if your spouse had sex with someone who is the same gender as them, the law would not recognise this as adultery.

What’s more, if you and your spouse continued to live together as a couple for more than 6 months following your discovery of the adultery, you will be unable to use this as a reason for divorce.


Reasons for divorce 3: Separation for at least 2 years

If you and your spouse both agree to the divorce and you have been separated for a minimum of 2 years, you can use this as a ground for divorce.


Reasons for divorce 4: Separation for at least 5 years

If you have been separated for a minimum of 5 years, you can apply for a divorce citing this as the reason, even if your spouse does not agree.


Reasons for divorce 5: Desertion

You will need to show that your spouse has left you for at least 2 years in the last 2.5 years.


As well as reasons for divorce, check you can get a divorce

While important, reasons for divorce are not the only thing you need to understand before you apply for a divorce.

For example, you will need to have been married for at least 1 year in order to get a divorce in England and Wales. Even if you can prove that your marriage has irretrievably broken down and can provide one or more reasons for divorce, you cannot get a divorce until this time period has passed.


Seeking advice from a solicitor regarding reasons for divorce

It’s always best to get independent legal advice from a solicitor, before choosing one or more of your reasons for divorce. A solicitor will be able to advise you which reasons for divorce are most suitable for your circumstances.


Other articles that may be of interest to you?

How long does a divorce take?

What is the divorce process?

When is decree absolute granted in a divorce?

Decree Nisi – What does this mean in a divorce?

What are the first steps to divorce?

Is a cheap divorce really possible?


How can our expert divorce solicitors help you with divorce

Our expert family law solicitors can help you with a range of legal issues relating to divorce, including:


Contact our expert divorce solicitors for advice divorce

For more information call our divorce solicitors on 0845 862 5001 or email

Our expert family law solicitors offer a nationwide service. We have client meeting office facilities available, in order to have face-to-face client meetings / conferences as and when required in:

Leeds Office: St Andrew House, The Headrow, Leeds, LS1 5JW

Wakefield Office: Market Walk, Wakefield, WF1 1QR

Halifax Office: Old Lane, Halifax, HX3 5WP

Huddersfield Office: Northumberland Street Huddersfield, HD1 1RL

Coventry Office: Warwick Road, Coventry, CV1 2DY

Canary Wharf Office: 25 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London, E14 5LB

Please contact us for more details.

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14th January 2020

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