Our Family Law specialists often have new clients call them to say they’ve just received divorce papers from court saying their spouse is divorcing them based on 'Unreasonable Behaviour'.
This can cause clients a great deal of worry and confusion.
What the Law says
In England and Wales, the only ground for divorce is that the marriage has broken down irretrievably.
The petitioner (the person who starts the proceedings) must then rely on one of five different Facts which are:-
- That the other person has behaved in such a way that you cannot reasonably be expected to live with them,
- 2 years’ separation with both parties consenting,
- Desertion, or
- 5 years separation
It isn’t possible to get a divorce based on anything else, so if none of the other Facts apply, Unreasonable Behaviour is the default Fact.
Why would my spouse have done this?
It might be that your spouse didn’t want to have to petition based on Unreasonable Behaviour, but they may have been left with no other choice. If you haven’t committed adultery and you haven’t been separated for 2 years, then Unreasonable Behaviour is their only option to get the proceedings up and running now.
How it affects you
Seeing the words Unreasonable Behaviour on a divorce petition can be scary and upsetting.
Normally there are two sides to every story and you might feel the examples of behaviour contained in the petition are either exaggerated, taken out of context or not true. In all likelihood, you could probably give examples of your spouse’s 'Unreasonable Behaviour' too.
What can you do?
The important thing to remember is that any alleged behaviour set out in a petition does not normally affect anything to do with finances or your children, unless it is very serious and relevant.
There are ways of allowing the divorce to go through without having to make any admissions or accept the contents on the petition.