Family Law

What Are The Grounds For a Divorce?

According to divorce statistics in 2017, the divorce rate was 42% for marriages in England and Wales. Currently, the rate stands at 62% (for heterosexual couples).

The divorce rate for heterosexual couples is higher in men aged 45 to 49 and women aged 40 to 44. Likewise, 60% of heterosexual marriages end before the 20-year mark. Second marriages, on the other hand, survive the test of time and are less likely to end up in a divorce. Statistics show that 18% of one partner had been previously divorced, while 8% of both partners had been married before. 

Breaking down marriage or civil partnership is a challenging time, one that requires logical yet professional advice. Royce Legal’s experienced divorce solicitors can guide you in this perilous time. We aim to make the process straightforward and stress-free.  

Reasons for Divorce

Under UK law, you must be married for more than a year to file for divorce. You will also be required to present a valid reason for ending your marriage. There are five reasons or grounds for divorce which demonstrate that the marriage is broken and cannot move ahead. The reasons are as follows: 

  1. Unreasonable Behaviour

It involves proof of behaviour from your spouse that you can no longer live together. Going this route of divorce, you will be required to note examples of their unreasonable behaviour. These can include but are not restricted to:

  • Verbal abuse (insults and dire threats) 
  • Physical abuse 
  • Refusal to make financial contributions to shared living expenses
  • Substance abuse

Regardless, the court does not insist on severe allegations of unreasonable behaviour to file for a divorce. Mild allegations such as devoting too much time to a career, having no common interest or pursuing a social life exclusive of your spouse all count as unreasonable behaviour. 

Unreasonable behaviour is the most common ground to apply for a divorce in the UK. 

  1. Adultery

Sufficient circumstantial evidence is required that your spouse has engaged in a sexual relationship with another person outside of your marriage and that you cannot bear to continue living with them after this. If a sexual relationship has been pursued by your spouse (short of sexual intercourse), the unreasonable behaviour ground is used instead. 

If you found out about your adulterous spouse and continued to live with them for more than six months after; you cannot give adultery as a reason for your divorce. And as a general rule of thumb, the one who has committed adultery cannot use this ground. 

  1. Desertion 

Your spouse has left you (after living together for a minimum of 6 months) without your agreement. The period for desertion is 2-3 years, after which you can file for a divorce. This ground is seldom used.

  1. Separation 
  • 2 Year Separation: you both have lived apart for at least two years and mutually agree on a divorce. The agreement must be in writing. 
  • 5 Year Separation: you both have lived apart for at least five years. In this case, you do not need an agreement of your spouse to file for a divorce. 

“No-Fault” Divorce 

No-fault divorce is currently not available. But this will likely change with the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020, currently going through parliament. Once this act becomes part of the law, anyone can apply for a divorce – without providing any of the five grounds mentioned above. This bill will also remove the ability to contest the divorce or allow joint applications. These changes also apply to civil partnerships.

No-fault divorce will reduce conflict between couples and help them focus on other details such as finances, property and custody of children. The UK government has announced that this act will be given Royal Assent by April 2022.

The Cost of Divorce

The divorce costs can be divided as follows:

  1. Court fees
  2. Legal fees
  3. Financial settlements (you are required to pay to your spouse)
  4. Child maintenance 
  • Court fees 

Court fees vary depending on where you are in the UK and how your divorce proceeds. Currently, filing for a divorce in England and Wales costs £550. A legally binding financial agreement (consented to by both partners) will cost £100.  £255 are for letting the court decide your finances will be split. Help for court fees is provided if you have a low income or are on benefits. 

  • Legal fees 

Legal fees include the cost of a solicitor that guides and advises you on the legal elements of your divorce. It also includes fees for representing you in court or negotiations with your partner. 

  • Financial Settlement

A financial settlement requires giving an asset or cash to your ex-partner. It can also include payment for ongoing maintenance. This agreement can be in private, via the assistance of your solicitors or directly in court.  

  • Child Maintenance 

Payment of child maintenance depends on your income, the number of children, benefits (inclusive of income support, state pension or incapacity benefit) and how many other children live in your house. 

The Divorce Process

The divorce petition is issued by the court and requires your marriage certificate and court fee. You will be the petitioner if you bring the divorce petition. The court will serve this petition on your spouse, and they will be the respondent. They are required to return the acknowledgement of service to the court. 

  • Decree Nisi: this is the first stage of divorce and is applied by the petitioner. It entails the completion of the application and a standard statement in support. The court will review your application and grant a certificate of entitlement (if criteria are met), to decree nisi along with setting a date for pronouncement. A copy is sent to both parties. From this phase onward, the court has the power to make financial orders (if asked).
  • Decree Absolute: six and one days from decree nisi, the petitioner can apply for degree absolute. If the petitioner doesn’t, the respondent can apply, three months after. It is also sent to both parties. Decree absolute terminates the marriage, but the financial links are still intact between both parties.

Online Divorce 

Online divorce option is available through an online service provided by the court.

Why Choose Royce Legal As Your Divorce Solicitor?

Royce Legal’s professional divorce solicitors have immense experience in aiding people to end their marriage and civil partnerships. We understand how stressful and mentally challenging divorce is, including concerns regarding your children and finances at the end of a relationship. 

Our solicitors will discuss your options one on one and explain the divorce process and the requirements needed at each stage. We also guide you in filling the necessary forms and starting the divorce process for you. 

Royce legal solicitors also guide legal issues, including asset distribution and future arrangements for offspring. We pride ourselves in imparting the best advice regarding home and financial security according to your situation – all while minimising potential conflict.

We will attempt to resolve even complex cases sensitively. These can include: 

  • If you’ve been living together but are not married, our family solicitor can help you understand your rights (if you break up).
  • If a divorce is against your faith or religion.
  • If you’re at risk of domestic abuse, your solicitor will prioritize your safety (and any children). 

No matter your case, you can expect our family law team to be logical yet supportive, provide sensitive and constructive dialogue and focus on a non-confrontational approach to settlement. 

In cases where court action is the best or only option, our team of professionals can put together the strongest case forward to you and help ensure you get a fair settlement. 

To discuss your needs and hire our expertise, call us at 01157 210 202. We offer 15 minutes free consultations, so do not hesitate to reach out to us.

We also offer legal counselling and advice in the following areas:

  • Immigration Solicitors
  • Family Law
  • Criminal Defence
  • Personal Injury
  • Conveyancing 

For enquiries or to book a free consultation, contact us at Phone: 01157 210 202

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