September 1, 2018
In 2016 – the last year for which full statistics by the ONS have been published – there were 106,959 divorces of opposite sex couples in England and Wales. Although this is an increase of around 5.8 per cent on the 2015 figure, it represents a 30 per cent reduction since one of the most recent peaks in 2003.
Unfortunately, despite the fast-changing society we live in, divorce is still governed by legislation passed in 1973. To put that in context, divorce legislation predates President Nixon being forced to resign, the first Steven King novel to be published and the George Foreman and Muhammad Ali classic Rumble in the Jungle.
A divorce, in theory, should be relatively simple. It is simply necessary to demonstrate that your marriage has broken down irretrievably.
Unfortunately, the law is such that it is necessary to evidence the irretrievable breakdown of a marriage by one of five facts. This is the major hurdle which parties face and must jump over.
A divorce can only be granted for one of the following five reasons; adultery, behaviour, desertion, when separated for two years with consent or separated for five years.
Adultery: when the respondent (the person being divorced) has committed adultery and the petitioner (the person bringing the divorce) finds it intolerable to live with the respondent.
Behaviour: when the respondent has behaved in such a way that the petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with the respondent.
Desertion: when the respondent has deserted the petitioner for a continuous period of at least two years immediately preceding the presentation of this petition.
Separated for two years with consent: when the parties to the marriage have lived apart for a continuous period of at least two years immediately preceding the presentation of the petition and the respondent consents to a decree being granted.
Separated for five years: when the parties to the marriage have lived apart for a continuous period of at least five years immediately preceding the presentation of this petition.
You cannot divorce based upon your own adultery, even leaving your spouse and setting up a home with a new partner would not give you grounds to petition against your spouse. The same should, however, be sufficient for them to lodge a petition against you.
If your spouse has not disappeared, committed adultery and will not agree to a petition after being separated for two years, ultimately it is a question of proving their behaviour is unreasonable or waiting five years for a divorce.
Gordon Brown Law Firm LLP (GBLF) understands that the decision to end a marriage is a difficult one. The firm’s expert family law solicitors can assist in handling this sensitive matter to deliver the best outcome for everyone involved.
With offices located in Newcastle and Chester-le-Street, GBLF offers a range of legal services across all areas of family, residential conveyancing, wills and probate, dispute resolution, corporate and commercial law.