What evidence do you need to prove unreasonable behaviour as grounds for divorce?


Divorce is only possible in the UK following a successful petition to the court which demonstrates that a relationship has irretrievably broken down. In order to demonstrate this, your divorce solicitor must be able to evidence one of five grounds for divorce recognised by the courts. These are:

  • Adultery
  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Desertion
  • Separation for more than two years with consent of both parties
  • Separation for more than five years without the consent of one party

Desertion, separation and adultery

Desertion and separation grounds require substantial periods of living apart, so adultery and unreasonable behaviour are commonly used when the petitioner is seeking a quick divorce.

Adultery requires your divorce solicitor to prove that the other party to the marriage had full sexual intercourse with another person of the opposite sex outside of the marriage. In the absence of a confession this can be very difficult to prove, and so more often parties will turn to the grounds of unreasonable behaviour.

Unreasonable behaviour

To prove unreasonable behaviour, the petition must evidence that the marriage has irretrievably broken down and that the petitioner finds the behaviour of the respondent so unreasonable that they can no longer tolerate living with them.

This may sound difficult to prove but the courts will accept a wide variety of behaviour from the most obvious, such as domestic violence, to the very obscure, such as bad hygiene. The petition itself is often sufficient evidence that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.

The key point to bear in mind is that an undefended divorce is private, so there is some value to agreeing grounds with the other party.

This will not jeopardise decisions on financial settlement or the ongoing care of children. Parties to divorce often make the mistake of using the details of unreasonable behaviour to humiliate the other party.

In reality this makes the other party less likely to accept the divorce, making the whole process lengthier and ultimately more costly.

Caven works with specialist divorce solicitors throughout the UK - call us on 08001 221 2299 or fill in the web-form opposite to talk to one of our advisors.

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