The 5 Legal Reasons for Divorce

As part of the divorce proceedings, you will need to provide reasons for divorce.  We will discuss these reasons with you to decide which is most suitable for you and your circumstances. Until you have decided on the reasons for your divorce, you cannot begin working through the various stages of divorce.

Currently (because it has been announced this area is going to be reformed), the law recognises five possible reasons for divorce:

  1. Adultery
  2. Unreasonable behaviour
  3. Desertion
  4. Separation (in excess of two years and with the consent of your spouse)
  5. Separation (in excess of five years).


Your spouse has committed adultery.  Adultery does not need to be proved, but it does have to be admitted by the other party to count as one of the reasons for divorce. If you continue to live with your spouse for more than six months after you find out about the adultery, the situation can be more complicated. You’ll need to discuss this with us when we meet.

Unreasonable Behaviour

Your spouse behaves in a way which you consider to be unreasonable. What is unreasonable is subjective, the point is that it is unreasonable to you. It does not have to be unreasonable to anyone else.


Your spouse has deserted you. Desertion means leaving your husband or wife without his or her agreement, and without good reason and will always be for a period in excess of two years. It is very rarely pleaded.

Separation (in excess of two years and with consent)

If the consent of your spouse is unlikely to be forthcoming, for whatever reason, then you will have to rely on one of the other reasons listed.

Separation (in excess of five years)

If you have lived separately from your spouse for more than five years, you can petition for a divorce even if your partner does not agree to it. They cannot defend this petition but they can ask the Court not to grant the Final Decree because of major financial or other type of hardship.

Our experienced family solicitors can help you choose the best option for you. Please contact us to book your consultation.