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Can Irreconcilable Differences Be Grounds for Divorce?

Despite popular belief, "irreconcilable differences" cannot be used as the legal basis for a divorce in England & Wales.

Irreconcilable differences can provide a possible ground for divorce in many jurisdictions including the United States for example where there have been many well publicised celebrity divorces citing ‘irreconcilable differences’ as the reason for the separation. The term is used so frequently in the media that people often present this to us as their reason for seeking a divorce.

In order to get divorced in the UK, there is only one ground for divorce that is permitted by the English Courts and that is the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. In order to get divorced a person must prove this breakdown by establishing one of these five facts:

  1. Adultery - The other party in the marriage (the Respondent) has committed adultery and the party wishing to divorce (the Petitioner) finds it intolerable to live with them.
  2. Unreasonable Behaviour - The other party in the marriage has behaved in such a way that the Petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with the Respondent.
  3. Desertion - The Respondent has deserted the Petitioner for a continuous period of at least two years.
  4. Two Years' Separation with Consent - The parties to the marriage have lived apart for a continuous period of at least two years and the Respondent consents to a divorce being granted.
  5. Five Years' Separation - The parties have lived apart for a continuous period of at least five years.

Munia Mahreen is a Family Law Paralegal at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in Manchester.

Slater and Gordon offer both flexible pricing and fixed fees for family law and divorce.

For a free initial consultation call freephone 0800 916 9055 or contact us online and we'll be happy to help you.

Slater and Gordon Lawyers have offices in London, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Sheffield, Milton Keynes, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Halifax, Newcastle, Wakefield and meeting rooms in Bramhall, Cheshire.

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