Divorce is governed by the provisions of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 and before you can file for divorce you must state that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. You must also prove this statement using one of the following five factors, known as the grounds for divorce:
- The respondent (the person who has divorce filed against them) has committed adultery and the petitioner (the person filing for divorce) finds it intolerable to live with the respondent;
- The respondent has behaved in such a way that the petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with the respondent;
- The respondent has deserted the petitioner for a continuous period of at least two years immediately preceding the presentation of the divorce petition;
- Two years’ separation with consent: the people in 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;
- Five years’ separation: the people in the marriage have lived apart for a continuous period of at least five years’ immediately preceding the presentation of the petition.
Once you have decided which is the most appropriate to you, it’s worth seeing a specialist family law solicitor as each factor has its own requirements which need to be met.
Can you use irreconcilable differences as a reason to file for divorce?
I’m often approached by clients who wish to cite irreconcilable differences as the basis for their divorce. Unfortunately this isn’t available as a ground for divorce in England and Wales.
If the other spouse’s behaviour causes you distress, embarrassment or worry, it may be that a petition based on unreasonable behaviour is appropriate.
If you have simply decided the marriage has reached a natural end, you will need to be separated for two years before petitioning on the basis of two years’ separation with consent.
For more information on what is required to file for divorce please contact Anita Scorah, in our Family Law team, on 01625 442123.