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I think my spouse is behaving badly. Will the court take their conduct or adultery into account?

Your spouse’s conduct can be taken into account by the court, but only with regards to your divorce itself. Conduct will not generally be taken into account when it comes to deciding your finances.

In England and Wales there is no such thing as a ‘no blame’ divorce. You must establish that there has been an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.

To show that this irretrievable breakdown has occurred (and for you to be granted your divorce) you have to prove that one of five things has happened – either unreasonable behaviour, adultery, separation for more than two years (with consent), separation for five years (without consent) or desertion.

You will need to present the court with evidence that one of these five things has happened in order to prove that an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage has occurred. Without evidence in one of these categories you will not be able to divorce.

Generally, throughout the proceedings, the court will only take your spouse’s conduct into account in circumstances where it is so extreme that the court cannot ignore it. This will be the case in only very limited circumstances. If you are unsure whether your spouse’s behaviour is extreme enough for the court to take it into account then it is best to talk to your solicitor to get independent legal advice.

However, if your spouse’s conduct is bad with regards to the actual litigation process then the court could order them to contribute to your costs. For example, if they are not responding to court orders or are somehow purposefully holding up the process then the court may take this into account and you could be awarded some money towards your legal costs.

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