If you’d like advice about divorce, please get in touch with the specialist divorce solicitors at Slater and Gordon Lawyers. You can contact us online or call freephone on 0808 175 8000 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Our divorce lawyers are frequently asked questions relating to the issue of ‘irreconcilable differences’. This is where a difference between two people in a marriage or civil partnership cannot be changed, but makes it impossible for the relationship to continue or intolerable for the couple to live together.
Irreconcilable differences is a valid grounds for divorce in the U.S. and in Australia, but it’s not an acceptable reason to submit to a divorce court in the UK. In the countries where it’s accepted, it’s a means of enacting a ‘no-fault’ divorce. This is where both parties agree to the divorce, often amicably, and don’t wish to accuse each other of behaviour that contributed to the breakdown of the relationship, such as adultery.
In the UK, you can’t give irreconcilable differences as a reason for divorce. The UK doesn’t allow immediate no fault divorces, which means that one person will have to petition the other for divorce. There are five acceptable reasons for divorce in the UK:
Many people are surprised that irreconcilable differences isn’t accepted as grounds for divorce in UK courts. The widespread misconception that it can be cited as a reason is perhaps due to its regular use in popular U.S. films and TV shows, as well as high profile celebrity divorces in the U.S.
If you need further information on the divorce process, the experienced lawyers at Slater and Gordon will be happy to help. We’ll take details about your circumstances and advise you on the best course of action. Please call us on freephone 0808 175 8000 or use our online contact form to get in touch.
The current divorce system in the UK presents problems for many couples - not least of which the fact that there’s no option to pursue an immediate no fault divorce that’d make it possible to use irreconcilable differences as the justification.
In addition, three of the five acceptable reasons for divorce require a significant delay. For example, desertion requires one party to have been away from the family home for at least two years in the last two and a half years, and this justification can sometimes be difficult to prove. If a couple agree to the divorce but don’t wish to blame one party for the breakdown of the relationship, the next option - two years separation where both parties consent - also requires a wait of two years before proceedings can begin.
If there’s been no adultery in the relationship, this leaves couples who don’t wish to wait to get divorced with one option. Divorce experts often recommend citing unreasonable behaviour on the petition. This is one of the most common reasons given for divorce in the UK. To get a divorce on this basis, couples are required to prove that:
Unreasonable behaviour can include things such as excessive alcohol consumption, regular drug taking, verbal abuse including threats or insults, physical violence or refusal to pay for housekeeping. If both parties consent to the divorce, the court is unlikely to scrutinise the examples of unreasonable behaviour given.
This reason is sometimes cited simply as a way to meet the requirements of the legal system in order to obtain a divorce as quickly as possible, allowing couples to move on with their lives without being stuck in a long-running, stressful separation.
In many cases, it won’t matter to couples who petitions the other for divorce based on unreasonable behaviour. Contrary to popular belief, the person who is ‘blamed’ in a divorce will not necessarily suffer in terms of the divorce settlement.
However, despite the fact that citing unreasonable behaviour may be the quickest way to obtain a divorce in the UK, this might not be your preferred course of action. After all, it can be difficult to accuse your spouse of behaviour like this or to be accused of it yourself.
If you’re facing divorce, it’s important to get reliable, sound legal advice as early in the process as possible. Our divorce solicitors tailor their services to suit your individual circumstances. We can offer advice and recommendations to help you to complete the divorce petition and decide which reason for divorce is most likely to ensure a timely, efficient divorce.
As one of the largest law firms in the UK, we’re known for employing a client-focused approach that means we always put your needs at the heart of what we do. We avoid legal jargon to explain everything clearly, and we’ll keep you updated at every turn. Our experts also understand the importance of providing a sensitive service during what’s likely to be a highly emotionally traumatic time.
If you need personalised advice on divorce or have a question about irreconcilable differences, unreasonable behaviour or any other issue relating to the breakdown of a marriage or civil partnership, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can call our divorce specialists on freephone 0808 175 8000 or use our online contact form and we’ll be happy to help.
When it comes to divorce, it really pays to have a specialist solicitor by your side to guide you through the process.