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divorceDivorce Law

If you are in a legally recognised marriage, have been married for at least a year, and your relationship has permanently broken down then you are able to obtain a divorce in the UK.

Under UK law there is only one ‘fact’ that a divorce can be based upon. It’s the fact that marriage has “irretrievably broken down”. Once this has been established between the couple then one of five ‘grounds’ for divorce must be relied upon. These grounds are:


This is when your spouse had sex with someone else of the opposite sex, and you can no longer bear to live with them. Adultery can’t be a reason if you lived with your spouse for 6 months after you found out about it.

Unreasonable behaviour

Unreasonable behaviour is the most common ground for divorce. It’s if your husband or wife behaved so unreasonably that you can no longer bear to live with them. Yet it can incorporate many different issues. These include violent behaviour, involvement with illegal substances or illegal behaviour, or refusing to assist in maintaining the household. The reasons that would be relied upon will vary in every single divorce. But don’t worry,we’ll assist you in preparing a petition.


Desertion counts if your spouse has left you without explanation or agreement to end your relationship. They must have left for more than two years in the two and a half years prior to applying for divorce. If you have lived together for a total of up to six months during this time then you can still base a divorce on the ground of desertion if the other criteria are met.

2 years separation with consent

You can get a divorce if you have lived apart from your spouse for more than 2 years. However, in writing, you both have to agree.

5 years separation

If you have lived apart from your spouse for more than 5 years this is usually enough to get a divorce, even if your spouse does not consent.

Once you have established your grounds, a divorce petition is submitted to a relevant Court with a fee, which is currently £410. Once your petition has been acknowledged by your spouse, or served on them, you can apply for a decree nisi and eventually a decree absolute which will mark the end of your marriage.

At White & Partners LLP we have over 30 years of experience in family law. We strive to make what can be an emotional process as efficient and stress-free as possible. We are experts in this area of law and welcome your queries, please contact us for further information.