What Are the Grounds for Divorce?

According to UK divorce law, the Matrimonial Causes Act (1973) lists “facts” for divorce in England and Wales. Five grounds exist, and each has different effects on divorce. These regulations are dynamic and will change in a timely. Staying aware of these legal minute details is essential, especially since divorce laws always change.

NB: We’re not legal experts. You should speak to a divorce lawyer if you need specific legal advice.

How a Divorce Works

The divorce process begins when one partner in the marriage completes a divorce petition. Once the other party acknowledges the petition, the divorce process will begin. You’ll have to give one of the five facts as your grounds for divorce on the petition.

Once the divorce is accepted, you might have to agree on the details of the financial settlement. Once all the details are finalised, you’ll be issued with a decree absolute, which is the legal document that officially ends your marriage.

Grounds For Divorce UK 2024:

In 2024, recognising your divorce grounds is essential, especially since few developments happened. Observing divorce law changes is vital to see how they may affect your legal processes. The Divorce, Dissolution, and Separation Act 2020 changed how divorces are handled in the UK on April 6, 2022, by eliminating the need to prove blame and no intimacy grounds for divorce in the UK.

The five grounds for divorce in the UK are:

  1. Adultery.
  2. Unreasonable behaviour.
  3. Desertion.
  4. Two years separation with consent.
  5. Five years of separation without consent.

1. Adultery

Married people can get a divorce if their partner had sex with someone of the opposite sex. Kissing and talking to someone online are not considered cheating. It can’t be used if the cheating was with someone of the same sex or if the couple lived together for six months after the cheating was found. Even though it’s easy to prove, adultery needs the partner to be present, which can lead to a defence or counter-divorce, which makes the process take longer. You can get help from PI UK to find out if your mate is cheating on you.

2. Unreasonable Behaviour

The second ground for divorce is unreasonable behaviour, where the Petitioner must prove the Respondent’s behaviours make being together senseless. The divorce petition requires significant to moderate examples of the Respondent’s misbehaviour. Grounds for divorce unreasonable behaviour include overwork, emotional neglect, financial neglect, substance abuse, and more severe concerns like physical abuse or drug use. 

To prevent defence, send the Respondent a draft petition before submitting. A divorce can be filed if a spouse’s behaviour becomes unacceptable and undermines the marriage. Daily issues like lacking emotional support or overworking might be a valid reason for filing a divorce. Using a private investigator to acquire proof for these allegations can streamline the divorce process.

3. Desertion

Desertion in divorce occurs when one spouse leaves without your consent and ignores communication. The abandonment must be without your agreement. Desertion doesn’t apply if your spouse went to care for a sick relative. You must find your spouse or wait five years to divorce. PI UK offers excellent tracing services to discover your spouse using their name, old phone number, and final address.

Desertion applies if your spouse leaves you for at least two years in the past 2.5 years without your consent and dissolves the relationship. This rationale applies if your spouse returns to work for less than six months in the past 2.5 years. Working overseas, participating in the military, or living abroad with your commitment to return after the given term are not valid reasons to leave.

4. Two Years Separation With Consent

If you both agree, you can get a divorce after two years of being apart. You can show that you’re not a pair if you live together but don’t share a bed or food. If the Respondent agrees, two years of separation with consent will lead to a divorce. If both people agree, living apart for more than two years can lead to divorce. But the wait might be unbearable if you want to end things faster.

5. Five Years' Separation Without Consent

Separation without permission for five years is the fifth divorce basis. Without the Respondent’s consent, a divorce can be granted after five years of separation. This applies when couples have lived independently for over five years, even if one does not want to divorce. Different living usually means living in other areas and living independently. This is the easiest way to divorce without the spouse’s consent. However, waiting five years is a long wait. This is commonly used when a spouse contests the divorce, and avoiding judicial processes is best.

If you need help with divorce investigations, Private Investigations UK offers professional, discreet, and confidential services to help. We’re non-judgmental and support you every step of the way. For free, friendly advice, please call 0800 002 0898. Alternatively, please fill out a contact form, and one of our agents will get back to you today.


In the UK, divorce can be pursued on five grounds, including adultery, unreasonable behaviour, two years’ separation with consent, desertion, and five years’ separation without consent.

Deciding to divorce is deeply personal. Reflect on your feelings, seek counselling if needed, and consider factors like communication breakdown, irreconcilable differences, or the impact on your well-being and family.

UK law recognises grounds like adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, and separation periods with or without mutual consent as valid reasons for divorce.

Adultery might need proof or a statement while acting unreasonably and needs examples. For separation reasons, you must spend time apart; for desertion reasons, you must show that the partner went without permission. Legal assistance is important for understanding these requirements.


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