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Divorce, Civil Partnership Dissolution & Separation

Divorce Proceedings

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Anyone who has been married for over a year, provided one or other of them has connections with England and Wales, can issue divorce proceedings; it does not matter where you were married. If you or your spouse is a foreign national or lives abroad, the rules about whether or not you can divorce in this country are quite complex; we can advise further on this as necessary.

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On what grounds can a divorce petition be started?

The only ground for divorce is that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, but irretrievable breakdown must be established by relying on one of five “facts” laid down by law. These are that:

  • Your spouse has committed adultery and you find it intolerable to continue living together; or
  • Your spouse has behaved in such a way that it would be unreasonable to expect you to continue living together (“unreasonable behaviour”); or
  • Your spouse has deserted you for a continuous period of 2 years or more; or
  • You and your spouse have been living separately for 2 years or more, and your spouse agrees to the divorce; or
  • You and your spouse have been living separately for 5 years or more, whether or not your spouse consents to the divorce.
What if your spouse wants a divorce but you do not?

If you think that there is a possibility of reconciliation, you should consider going to a service such as RELATE (formerly Marriage Guidance). Even if divorce proceedings have already been started, they can be stopped at any time before Decree Absolute.