Family law

Irreconcilable differences as grounds for divorce

Irreconcilable differences constitute grounds for divorce in some countries. But in the UK, the only grounds for divorce is 'irretrievable breakdown', for one or more of five main reasons we explain below.

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Are 'irreconcilable differences' grounds for divorce?

The phrase 'irreconcilable differences' simply means that people don't get along anymore; and that isn't sufficient grounds for ending a marriage contract in England and Wales.

In fact, the only grounds for divorce that our courts currently accept is 'irretrievable breakdown' in the marriage. This has to be due to one or more of the following five reasons:

• Adultery: Where you can prove that your spouse has had a sexual relationship with someone of the opposite sex

Unreasonable behaviour: Where your spouse's behavior is so bad that no reasonable person could put up with it

Desertion: Where your spouse has been absent for more than two years in the last two and a half years without good reason or your consent

You have lived separate lives for more than two years: This enables you divorce if both of you agree to it

You have lived separate lives for more than five years: This enables you to divorce even if your spouse wants to stay married

Can I cite unreasonable behaviour in my divorce?

Unreasonable behaviour is one of the most commonly cited reasons to file for divorce. It is relied on if there has been no adultery or desertion and either one or both parties don't wish to wait for two or even five years to elapse before they can file a divorce petition.

Unreasonable behaviour is one example of irretrievable breakdown of marriage.

The test for unreasonable behaviour is subjective. This means that as long as you think it is unreasonable behaviour, that is fine. Examples of unreasonable behaviour can include all forms of domestic abuse, whether verbal, physical or financial.

A court will also consider failure to contribute to household costs to be unreasonable, as well as drug abuse or excessive drunkenness. At the other extreme, if you think it is unreasonable that your spouse has not helped you with housework, that is also acceptable because you believe it to be unreasonable.

So if you can no longer tolerate the unreasonable behaviour of your spouse, it may be time for you to talk to one of our understanding and experienced divorce lawyers. Call us now on 0330 107 6495 or contact us online today and we will call you.

Why choose Slater and Gordon's divorce lawyers?

Even when a divorce is mutually agreed, it can become complex when it comes to things like division of property, financial support and child arrangements.

Case studies

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