Find out if you have grounds for a divorce in the UK

Dealing with a marriage breakdown is not only upsetting for everyone affected, but it can also be daunting in terms of what to do next; especially when children are involved. As a result of this, some people find themselves postponing the divorce process, which, unfortunately, just prolongs any unhappiness. It’s completely understandable, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Seeking advice from legal experts takes away the unnecessary pressure of having to deal with it on your own, and also ensures any agreements are reached fairly and amicably. Before you can file for divorce however, you’ll need to be sure you are eligible. In the UK, a married couple has to meet certain criteria before being granted a divorce.

Eligibility for divorce in the UK

To start, you’ll need to provide proof of the following:

  • You’ve been married for more than a year
  • The relationship has broken down for good
  • You are in a legally recognised marriage in the UK (this includes same-sex marriage)
  • The UK is your permanent home, or the permanent residence of your husband or wife

During the divorce process, you’ll be asked to show that the marriage has broken down for good, and there is no chance of it being saved. One or more of the following five reasons (also known as ‘facts’) will need to be given:

Adultery - Your husband or wife has been unfaithful and had sexual intercourse with someone else. If you lived together as a couple for more than six months after finding out about it, then you can’t give adultery as a reason.

Unreasonable behaviour - This includes physical violence, verbal abuse (such as threats or insults), drunkenness or drug-taking and a refusal to pay towards shared living expenses.

Desertion - Before applying for divorce, your husband or wife must have left you for at least two years. Desertion can still be claimed if you have lived together for up to a total of six months in this period, but it will not count towards the two years.

You’ve been separated for at least two years before applying for a divorce and you both agree to it - Your husband or wife must agree in writing. If you still live in the same home as your husband or wife, it may be possible to prove that you are separated. 

You’ve been separated for at least five years before applying - You can apply even if your husband or wife disagrees.

Next steps and filing for divorce

If you believe you have legitimate grounds for a divorce, then you can begin the process.

Before sending in your application to the government, if you have children, decisions will have to be made regarding arrangements for them and child maintenance. There are also other considerations that will come into question, including money, pensions and property - which carry a deadline if you wish to make this legally binding.

These areas are often where things become complicated, and enlisting the help of a legal professional will mean you have expert guidance every step of the way. Opting for experts in family law and divorce, such as GA Solicitors, will ensure your unique situation is completely understood. They’ll be able to explain everything that needs to be dealt with and advise on what to do next.

In some events, court hearings will be necessary, although they can be avoided if you can agree on the reason your marriage is ending, children, money, and property.

Ultimately, if you can both agree that you want a divorce, then the first, important step has been taken.