Am I eligible for a divorce? Family Law

A divorce is the legal process undertaken by a married couple to end their marriage. It is also sometimes known as a ‘dissolution of marriage’.

To get divorced in England or Wales, the following must be true:

  • You’ve been married for over 12 months
  • Your relationship has permanently broken down
  • Your marriage is legally recognised in the UK (including same-sex marriage)
  • The UK is your permanent home, or the permanent home of your husband or wife

What are the reasons or ‘facts’ that can be given for divorce?

There are five ‘facts’ for divorce. These are:

  • One of you has committed adultery
  • One of you has behaved unreasonably during the marriage so that you cannot reasonably be expected to live with them
  • Your partner has ‘deserted’ you. This occurs when one party to a marriage deserts the other for a period exceeding two years
  • You have lived apart for at least two years and you both agree to the divorce
  • You have lived apart for at least five years. In these circumstances, it doesn’t matter if your partner doesn’t agree to the divorce

How do we get divorced if we’ve been separated for less than two years?

If you have been separated for less than two years in total, you can only apply for a divorce based on the fact of unreasonable behaviour or adultery.

How do we get a divorce if we’ve lived apart for two years or more?

You can apply for a divorce if you have been separated for at least two years before applying and you both agree to the divorce. It may be possible to show that you have been separated while living in the same home provided you are not living together as a couple.

How do we get a divorce if we’ve lived apart for at least five years?

You can apply for a divorce if you have been separated for at least five years before applying, even if your spouse disagrees.

What is the definition of adultery when applying for divorce?

To apply for a divorce based on adultery, your spouse must have had sexual intercourse with someone else of the opposite sex. Adultery cannot, therefore, be a fact that can be relied on in a same-sex marriage. You cannot give adultery as a reason if you have lived together as a couple for more than six months after you discovered the adultery.

Your spouse will have to admit to the adultery by signing a confession statement.

What constitutes unreasonable behaviour in divorce proceedings?

‘Unreasonable behaviour’ means things your partner does that make you feel it is impossible to live with them anymore and to continue the marriage.

Examples of unreasonable behaviour include:

  • Domestic abuse
  • Committing a criminal offence
  • Starting an ‘inappropriate’ relationship with someone else
  • Financial irresponsibility

To file for divorce based on unreasonable behaviour, you will have to give specific examples of your partner’s unreasonable behaviour along with the reasons why you feel the behaviour is unreasonable.

What is meant by desertion in divorce proceedings?

Desertion means that your partner has left you and you have not had a relationship with them for at least two years. You can still claim desertion if you have lived together for up to a total of six months in this period, but this will not count towards the two years.

Divorce Support From Beswicks Legal

Facing family breakdown or divorce is a stressful time for everyone involved. At Beswicks, our family law solicitors are on hand to support you during this difficult period. We can provide expert legal advice which considers the sensitive nature of your situation and helps you to take the next steps to begin a new chapter in your life. To arrange a one-hour consultation with our family solicitors, please get in touch with us.