What are the Grounds for Divorce?

This article was published before the introduction of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020. You no longer need to prove that the marriage has irretrievably broken down due to unreasonable behaviour, adultery, desertion, two years’ separation with consent or five years’ separation. For more information, contact our Divorce and Family Law team on 01273 604 123

If you’re married in the UK, a divorce will only be granted if the marriage is considered by the courts to be irretrievably broken down. You must be able to prove that this is the case through one of five ways:

The Grounds for Divorce

You or your partner has committed adultery. Adultery is defined as having sexual intercourse with a member of the opposite sex – it does not apply to same-sex relations.

You or your partner has behaved unreasonably. Unreasonable behaviour is defined as an action that makes it intolerable to live with someone, such as physical, emotional or verbal abuse, or not contributing financially to the home.

If you or your partner left with no reason or agreement, or if you have been separated for more than 24 months in the last 30, this is considered ‘desertion’ and is one of the grounds for divorce.

You have grounds for divorce if you and your partner have been separated for two years and you both agree to the divorce.

If you and your partner have been separated for five years, even if one party objects to the divorce, this is also considered grounds for divorce.

To make sure your reasons for divorce will be accepted by the courts, speak to Burt Brill & Cardens. We have a specialised, dedicated family solicitor who will advise you on whether your grounds for divorce will be considered valid.

For more information, call our specialist divorce solicitor on 01273 604123 or email You can read more from the Citizen’s Advice Bureau about ending a marriage.


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