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Posted 9 January 2018
by Ricky Noble

Divorce Proceedings – What is Unreasonable Behaviour?

In divorce proceedings, the Petitioner must prove that the marriage has irretrievably broken down by establishing one of the following five facts:

  • Adultery.
  • Unreasonable behaviour.
  • Desertion.
  • 2 years separation with consent.
  • 5 years separation (no consent required).

Unreasonable behaviour has consistently been the most common ground for petitioning for divorce for several years in England and Wales. The advantages of relying on unreasonable behaviour is that the consent of your spouse is not required, and there is no set time period to wait before being able to rely on this ground to issue divorce proceedings (over and above the one year of marriage requirement for all Divorce Petitions).

The allegations of unreasonable behaviour contained in your Divorce Petition must be specific to your personal circumstances that have contributed to the breakdown of the marriage. You cannot use your own behaviour in any way. The behaviour alleged also needs to be true.

Normally the Judge will look to see if there are 5 to 6 examples of unreasonable behaviour that have contributed to the breakdown of the marriage, either whilst you are still together, or six months prior to any separation.

For many couples what is considered to be unreasonable is personal and subjective, however, they do need to be sufficient to convince a District Judge that you can no longer remain married to this person because of the unreasonable behaviour.

Unreasonable behaviour can be many things such as not spending any time together, the other party is financially irresponsible, they are not prepared to spend time socially with you, lack of intimacy, right up to displaying aggressive and threatening behaviour, a dependency on alcohol or drugs, or an inappropriate relationship.

Here at Tozers LLP we have an experienced team of lawyers specialising in divorce and separation, and the associated financial and children issues. Please free to contact us for a free, confidential initial appointment to discuss the options available to you. We have divorce and Family solicitors in Exeter, Newton Abbot and Teignmouth. If you require further information or advice in respect of divorce, or any family matter please contact our solicitors in Exeter on 01392 207020.

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About the author

Ricky Noble


Paralegal within our family team