One of the most sought after topics when it comes to family law in the UK is that of divorce. Divorce in the UK is quite a bit different from how it is practiced in the US. The main reason for this is that there is no law that provides for a no-fault type of divorce in the UK. Basically, this means that two people who just fell out of love and do not wish to continue in their married relationship cannot opt to amicably just end it through a divorce without putting the blame on the other person. Perhaps future legislation will change this view on UK divorce but for now, this is the prevailing doctrine.
What Are The Different Grounds For UK Divorce
Ok, so if you cannot get a UK divorce by just going straight to court and asking for one, then how do you get a divorce in the first place? The law provides several grounds and by gaining an understanding of what each of these grounds is all about, you will get a clearer picture of how divorce works in the UK.
- Unreasonable behaviour.
- 2 years separation with consent.
- 5 years separation (no consent required)
Adultery is pretty much self-explanatory. Reliance upon this ground is of course reserved for the party who was not at fault. This is reasonable because it prevents the party who was at fault for the adultery from using the same adultery as a ground to get a divorce.
Desertion is also another ground that means exactly what it says. One of the parties must have just left the other one behind continuously and without consent for a period of two years.
2 years separation with consent is the closest UK divorce equivalent to a no-fault divorce. Using this ground, both you and your spouse must have been living separately from each other and with your mutual consent. Naturally, both of you must agree to the divorce.
For 5 years of separation without consent, the only difference here is that one of the parties solely may file for the petition. Of course, you should know that this is not the same as desertion wherein you have no idea of the current whereabouts of your spouse. In order to ensure that the petition for divorce goes smoothly, it is recommended that you have the current home or office address of your spouse ready and that you are certain that your spouse may still be found there.
Finally, we have unreasonable behaviour. For couples seeking a no-fault type of UK divorce, this may be the best option for you. This is the most flexible ground for divorce since “unreasonable behaviour” is a question of law that is subject to court interpretation. This means that what counts as unreasonable behaviour shall be taken account on a case-to-case basis depending on the prevailing case law at the time that the divorce proceedings were instituted. Citing something such as lack of emotional support can sometimes be enough to support this ground if proven with evidence.