If your marriage has run into difficulties you need to know where you stand before deciding on what action to take. This may involve acquiring some information from your lawyer that surprises and disappoints you. Many problems can however be avoided by taking sensible advice from us at an early stage.

Firstly, you need to be aware that the divorce process in England and Wales is a “fault based system”. Unless you agree to wait for at least two years then a divorce petition cannot be based upon irreconcilable differences or irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. The petitioner must allege and prove to the court, either adultery by the respondent or his or her unreasonable behaviour. That said, dealt with properly, the entire process can and normally is dealt with on paper without any need to go to court. In most cases the content of the divorce petition is agreed in advance by the parties’ lawyers and our firm is highly experienced in negotiating the content and the associated claims for costs to minimise areas of potential dispute.

If you do decide that there must be a divorce, or indeed your spouse indicates that they wish to proceed to divorce, there are five facts available in law upon which the petition can be based, to support the assertion that the marriage has irretrievably broken down and not all facts will be suitable to the circumstances of your case:

  • The other party has committed adultery
  • The other party has behaved in such a way that the petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with them
  • The other party has deserted the petitioner for a continuous period of at least two years
  • The parties have been living apart for at least two years and the other party agrees to divorce; or
  • The parties have been living apart for at least five years, in which case the agreement of the other party is not required
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