What are the grounds for divorce?

The grounds for divorce have been the same for 50 years, and the world has moved on but the law hasn’t. This means people are often forced to say things in divorce papers that create more arguments.

Here at bbl we try and make this as simple as possible. The legal reality is that the grounds are fairly irrelevant – the court doesn’t punish anyone because of what is written in a divorce petition – it’s just a means to an end.

The best approach is to deal with the divorce in a low key way and avoid and nasty allegations or arguments. It’ very rare for there to be any tactical reason to have a messy divorce.

To prove a marriage has broken down you have to rely on one of 5 facts – desertion for 2 years, or 5 years separation, or 2 years separation with your partners consent, and finally adultery or unreasonable behaviour.

Most people end up relying on adultery or unreasonable behaviour, rather than waiting 2 years. Just to complicate things even further, the fact of adultery isn’t available for same sex spouses.

The best approach is to agree in advance who is going to start the divorce, and on what grounds, and even try to agree the wording of the petition beforehand. There is no point getting the divorce off on a bad footing by creating a row about divorce papers.

Also, people often ask, how do I get a quickie divorce? The answer is, you don’t – there’s no such thing – the procedure is more or less the same for each of the different facts. Divorce usually takes between 4 and 6 months if everyone deals with things promptly.

Peter