Grounds for Divorce

If you are considering a divorce, contact Harold Stock & Co for advice on what options are available to you and for further information on how the divorce process works. All our initial meetings are free of charge.

Starting divorce proceedings


In order to commence divorce proceedings, you must show that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. This can be showed by proving one of the five following facts:-

  1. Adultery – Divorce proceedings can be issued if your husband/wife has committed adultery. In order to succeed on this basis, you must be able to prove the adultery. It is not sufficient simply to suspect that your spouse may have committed adultery due to the fact that he or she is in a new relationship. It is advisable only to commence proceedings on these grounds if your spouse is willing to admit to the adultery openly prior to issue of proceedings.

  2. Unreasonable Behaviour – this is the most commonly cited of the five facts. Unreasonable behaviour can  include violent and threatening behaviour, verbal intimidation or aggression, or more simply, that you feel that your spouse has simply lost interest in you and the marriage, and offers little emotional support. Your partner does not have to agree that their behaviour has been unreasonable. It is a subjective test which means the court will focus on how their behaviour has made you feel.

  3. Two Years’ Separation with consent – you can issue divorce/dissolution proceedings on the grounds that you and your partner have lived apart separately for a continuous period of two years or more. However, you will need your partners consent to issue on these grounds. If that consent is not provided, then you will not be able to issue on this basis.

  4. Desertion – you can issue proceedings on these grounds if your partner has deserted you for a period of two years or more. This ground is rarely used, and usually one of the other five facts can be used instead.

  5. Five Years’ Separation – it is possible to issue proceedings on the grounds that you have lived apart separately for a continuous period of five years or more. In these circumstances, it is not necessary to obtain your partners consent to the proceedings.

For further information or to make an appointment to see one of our expert family lawyers, please contact us on 0330 400 4040, by email on or complete the contact us page and we will be in touch.