Grounds for divorce: a helpful guide

adultery is a grounds for divorce

The Divorce Surgery have very kindly written us this guide about the grounds for divorce.

Although campaigners have been working hard to reform the divorce law in England and Wales for some time now, no-fault divorce has still not come into force. Until this happens, to divorce in England and Wales a couple must prove that their relationship has ‘irretrievably broken down’.  This means the marriage cannot be saved. There are five ‘facts’, or reasons, you can use to prove this. This blog is an easy to read guide on the grounds for divorce – those five reasons.


  • Adultery is committed when one person has sexual intercourse with someone else of the opposite sex. Sexual intercourse with someone of the same sex is not recognised as adultery in England and Wales.
  • If your husband or wife has committed adultery you need to start divorce proceedings within 6 months of finding out.
The no fault divorce and divorce petitions

Unreasonable Behaviour

  • This is when one person has behaved in a way that means you could not reasonably be expected to live with them.
  • This reason involves blaming the other person and giving examples of their poor behaviour and the impact it has had on you.
  • Some examples might include domestic abuse, drug taking or lack of emotional support. Note however that any allegations made in the divorce petition are highly unlikely to carry any relevance in related financial and/or children proceedings (which is another reason why our ‘fault based’ divorce system is so unhelpful).


  • This means your partner has left you for at least 2 years before you apply for divorce.
  • This can be quite a difficult reason to prove.
  • You will need to prove that your partner left without just cause, without your consent, for a continuous period of at least two years.
  • If you have got back together in that time, it cannot be for more than 6 months and it won’t count towards the 2 year period of desertion you need to prove.

Separated for at least 2 years

  • This is the most amicable option as a grounds for divorce and is available to couples who have separated for at least two years before applying. They both need to consent to the divorce.
  • You can have remained in the same house, but have been living separate lives. For example, sleeping and eating separately and no longer sharing bank accounts.

Separated for at least 5 years

  • In this option, there is no need for both parties to consent.
  • If you have been living separately to your husband or wife for at least 5 years you can apply for divorce using this reason.

Unfortunately, the options available at the moment in England and Wales tend to rely on one party ‘blaming’ another. Until Parliament implements the much needed reforms in this area of law, the options remain limited. At The Divorce Surgery, we recognise that this narrow view of relationship breakdown isn’t always accurate. We want to help make sure the rest of the process is as amicable as possible with our One Lawyer One Couple method. 

For more information on how to file your petition reach out to The Divorce Surgery via The Hug Directory

Citizens Advice Bureau – getting A divorce

Get the latest stories!


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.





how to complete your form e

How to fill in a Form E

My sex was on fire with Tinder