Like Nigella Lawson and Charles Saatchi, over 54 per cent of divorces granted in England and Wales to the wife are now on the basis of ‘unreasonable behaviour’ according to the Office for National Statistics.
This is one of the five grounds for a divorce; that your marriage has irretrievably broken down. As the other ways involve proving the other person’s adultery or living apart for more than two years, ‘unreasonable behaviour’ is the most commonly cited reason for divorce in England and Wales.
Unreasonable behaviour is where the other person has behaved in such a way that you cannot reasonably be expected to tolerate it.
The ‘behaviour’ has a deliberately wide scope to encompass all manner of situations not covered by the other facts. You will need to fully explain the specific nature of behaviour in your divorce petition, which the judge will consider before granting your divorce. A copy of the petition will be sent to your husband or wife and they will have the opportunity to refute the allegations, so it is important they are true.
It is common to give several reasons and examples of behaviour that you believe have caused an irretrievable breakdown of your marriage. They can include:
It can be difficult and costly to petition for adultery if your husband or wife will not admit to it. If you suspect that they may be having an affair or are behaving inappropriately with other people, even online or on telephone chat lines, this could be considered unreasonable.
The strict definition of adultery only covers heterosexual relationships. So if your spouse had a sexual relationship with somebody of the same sex as them, they would not have committed adultery but you would not reasonably be expected to tolerate this behaviour.
This could be verbal, physical or sexual. You will need to give some examples of the type of abuse and what form it took. You will also need to detail how regularly the abuse occurred. It could include constant criticism, disrespect, threats, isolation, harassment, sexual violence and physical violence against you or the children.
If you are concerned for the safety of yourself or a child who is suffering abuse, speak to us immediately about applying for an injunction to protect you from further incidents.
Drinking and gambling
If your husband or wife is drinking excessively, uses drugs or gambles and you do not find this acceptable, you can use this in your petition especially if it is a catalyst for aggressive or violent behaviour.
This could include any irresponsible actions of your husband or wife that result in you suffering deprivation, financial hardship or failure to maintain the children.
Refusing to engage with you
This is where your husband or wife will not make any attempt to speak with you, socialise with you, have intercourse with you or refuses to try and salvage the marriage.
If you have decided to seek a divorce, the route you use can be a difficult decision. Anything you state in the petition, which is not contested by your spouse, could be referred to in later proceedings that could affect your finances, children and personal safety.
You should always take legal advice from an experienced family solicitor on your particular circumstances.
For further information please contact Paul Antoniou