Divorcing on the Grounds of Unreasonable Behaviour
18 Feb, 2019 Unreasonable Behaviour
Unreasonable behaviour is the most common reason cited in divorce applications in England and Wales. In spite of this, we know from direct experience that many people refrain from filing on this ground because: a. they feel that this ground can only be used if the behaviour in question is extreme (such as domestic abuse) or b. because they recognise that both they and their spouse were both responsible for the breakdown of the marriage and do not think it would be fair or reasonable for them to shoulder the blame as a result.
Examples of unreasonable behaviour do not need to be severe
The vast majority of the examples of unreasonable behaviour mentioned in petitions filed throughout England and Wales are mild. Failing to make a sufficient effort to communicate is a commonly cited reason; not providing affection is another. Both are consistently referred to in Divorce Petitions relying on unreasonable behaviour and they and numerous other offences that most would consider minor have been deemed perfectly acceptable by the judges that have reviewed them. Of course, some reasons have been deemed insufficient, but this is tremendously rare and is usually only reserved for the pettiest of examples, and there’s a good reason why.
Whilst any spouse that files for a divorce on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour is claiming that their marriage has irretrievably broken down because of the way their spouse has behaved, it’s far more likely that the couple have instead grown apart. As they would be required to wait two years before they would be able to rely on a ground where neither party would be blamed, however, they cite unreasonable behaviour and cite flaws that their spouse possessed and they, in turn, tolerated – a pattern present in virtually all marriages, happy or not.
Unreasonable behaviour is subjective
Ultimately, the courts recognise that what one person believes to be reasonable is something another person will find infuriating. As a result, virtually any reason that someone could realistically find irritating is deemed to be an acceptable one. The only circumstance under which an example would not be viewed as acceptable would be if a judge deemed it to be one that would overwhelmingly be deemed to be reasonable; something which provides Petitioners (the party that files for the divorce) with a great deal of scope when determining what they can include in a Divorce Petition reliant on their spouse’s unreasonable behaviour.
No-fault divorce could be the answer
At the time of writing, the government have been discussing the possibility of simplifying the divorce process by abolishing the fault-based grounds of adultery and unreasonable behaviour. On top of this, it’s believed that couples will only need to have been living separately for six months before the courts will consider a divorce application filed by either party. It’s also believed that it will no longer be possible for Respondents to contest any application.
It is hoped that this will prevent former spouses from falling out with another as a result of one blaming the other for the breakdown of their marriage, with it often being argued that this is one of the main reasons children become alienated from one parent following a divorce.
The D10 Form and its Role in Divorce Proceedings
18 Mar, 2019
Whilst it is possible for a divorce to proceed without the knowledge of both spouses, this is rare and in the vast majority of circumstances the Respondent (the spouse that did not file for the divorce) will be sent a copy of the Divorce Petition their spouse submitted to the court along with a D10...read more
Can you Cite your own Adultery when Divorcing your Spouse?
07 Jan, 2019
When filing for a divorce, it is necessary to prove that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. In order to do this, one of five reasons for this breakdown must be cited. These are: Two-year separation with consent;Five-year separation;Desertion;Unreasonable behaviour; andAdultery Of these re...read more
Can you Change the Reasons for your Divorce?
21 Jan, 2019
Sometimes, a divorce application cannot proceed because of the grounds cited and it may be necessary to change these. One common scenario under which it’s necessary to do so comes about when a couple initially agree to a divorce and, following the process having started and the petition citing two-y...read more
We believe that, when it comes a life-changing event like divorce, expert assistance should be available to everyone. This is why all of our services are overseen by a solicitor from start to finish.
Fixed Fee Plus
Our Solicitor Divorce Plus service has all of the benefits of our Solicitor Divorce Service but with the added benefit of financial security thanks to a bespoke Consent Order.