What are the grounds for divorce?

Deciding to bring your marriage to an end isn’t as simple as ending a relationship. Before you can officially end your wedding, you’ll have to prove that there are “grounds for divorce.” To help protect the sanctity of marriage, it’s not quite so simple to end a marriage. And to make things more complicated, it also requires one party to be in the wrong.

From April 2022, couples in the UK will be able to end their marriage without placing blame. This will allow teams to decide to end their marriage amicably, which should hopefully reduce stress for couples. However, until then, with the assistance of professional lawyers like those at Peters and May, couples will have to demonstrate how their relationship has broken down as a result of the following causes.

Their team of experienced lawyers is committed to representing our clients with the utmost professionalism and competence, delivering positive outcomes that meet their legal needs and exceed their expectations.


Perhaps the most apparent reason that couples might divorce, adultery means that one partner has had a sexual relationship without another person. Proving adultery can be difficult, so it’s essential to try to find witnesses. 

According to Major Family Law, it’s also essential to act quickly. If you wait for more than six months to file for divorce, then the courts will assume that you accept the behavior. You would then have to point to another reason for the breakdown of your marriage.

Unreasonable behavior

This is the broadest category of grounds for divorce. It could include anything from emotional or physical abuse to irresponsible behavior with money. It could also include drug or alcohol abuse. Or it could consist of something simple like refusing to contribute towards living expenses.

Unreasonable behavior is the most common reason cited in divorce applications. In the broadest sense, it means that your husband or wife has acted in a way that you cannot be expected to continue living with them. The interpretation of this can be pretty broad, so having an experienced lawyer like this Schaumburg divorce lawyer can be useful as they can help you to draft the allegations of unreasonable behavior in the correct way, in order to prove it satisfactorily. 


If your partner has left you and you haven’t had contact with them, you will be able to apply for a divorce after two years. This also counts if you are in an “on and off” relationship. Even if you have lived together for up to six months of the two years, you can still claim desertion.

Separation after two years

If you would like to end your marriage more amicably, it is possible to do this after spending two years apart. Both parties must agree to the divorce for this to be accepted by the courts.

Interestingly, you don’t have to have been living apart. This could mean sleeping in different rooms and not sharing mealtimes. 

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Separation after five years

After five years of living apart, it’s possible for one spouse to apply for a divorce, even if the other party doesn’t agree. 

The critical distinction between two years and five years of separation is that it is possible to divorce without the other party’s consent. For example, if a couple has been apart for two years and one wants to reconcile, it won’t be possible to gain a divorce on these grounds. The spouse who wants a divorce would have to point to another reason. However, after five years, it’s possible to divorce without their consent.

No-fault divorce

In April 2022, the UK government will introduce a no-fault divorce which will make it easier for couples to separate without pointing the finger at anyone or placing blame. It is hoped this will make separations less stressful and also allow couples to focus on practical considerations such as child custody arrangements.

The introduction of the no-fault divorce will also cause changes to some other grounds for divorce. For example, the changes will remove the ability for divorce to be contested, which means spouses will no longer be able to argue against a divorce petition.

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