The five supporting facts to divorce.

Throughout history marriage has been viewed as a union for life. However in recent times divorce has become more popular - during 2016 there were ‘106,959 divorces of opposite-sex couples in England and Wales, which is an increase of 5.8% compared with 2015’ 1

How easy is it to actually get divorced? There is a bar on petitions being presented within the first year of marriage and there is no discretion to waive the time limit on this. In the writer’s opinion this is a respectable amount of time to give to a marriage before deciding to divorce, stopping couples getting divorced at the first sign of trouble.

Section 1 of The Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 states that ‘a petition for divorce may be presented to the court by either party to a marriage on the ground that the marriage has broken down irretrievably’. This is the sole ground for divorce. The ground must be supported by one of the five facts which include adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, two years separation with consent and five years separation.

Adultery is defined as voluntary sexual intercourse between a man and a women, one or both who is married. This does not apply to civil partnerships. You cannot rely on your own adultery in presenting a divorce petition to the Court. Adultery on its own is not enough, it must be seen to make married life intolerable - this is subjective and does not have to be linked to the adultery.

Unreasonable behaviour is defined as the respondent behaving in such a way that the petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with the respondent. The key question is, would any right thinking person come to the conclusion that this spouse behaved in a way that his husband/wife cannot be reasonably expected to live with them?

Desertion is rarely used and defined as an unjustifiable withdrawal from cohabitation for two years without the consent of the remaining spouse and with the intent of being separated permanently.

Finally is separation which falls into two categories, firstly two years separation with consent where the parties have lived apart for two years and both agree that they want a divorce. Secondly, five years separation where neither needs to consent nor does there need to be fault or someone at blame.

By Ruby Holland, Brand Ambassador for Paul Robinson Solicitors and Student at Reading University.

This article is created by a Paul Robinson Solicitors LLP “Brand Ambassador” who are students and unqualified. The article provides their views on the topic and does not necessarily deal with every important topic or cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not designed to provide legal or other advice and nor does it necessarily reflect the views of this firm

1 (2017). Divorces in England and Wales – Office for National Statistics [online] available at {accessed 14 November 2017}