Going through a divorce can be very painful, but there are also many legal requirements to consider. Not every couple may be eligible to file for divorce. The law of England and Wales states that a couple needs to be married for at least one year before they can apply for a divorce.

England and Wales require the marriage to be legally recognised in the UK, which also includes same-sex marriage, and the couple or one partner to live in the UK permanently. There is more than one ground for divorce. Usually, the main one is the ending of a marriage because it has permanently broken down.

The five grounds for divorce are the following:

  • adultery

Committing adultery means that a spouse or both had sexual intercourse with someone outside of the relationship, thus making it a reason to file for divorce. The government explains that ‘you cannot give adultery as a reason if you lived together as a couple for more than 6 months after you found out about it’.

  • unreasonable behaviour

Behaviour of a spouse towards their partner is considered unreasonable if they physically attack them or verbally abuse them, including threatening or insulting behaviour.

Drunkenness or drug-taking are also considered unreasonable and can be ground to file for divorce.

  • refusing to pay towards shared living expenses

If a spouse refuses to help with the payment of the rent or other living expenses, it is also considered a valid reason to file for divorce.

  • desertion

A spouse can file for divorce if their partner has deserted them and left the relationship. There can be different reasons for this, but desertion usually gives you the right to apply for divorce.

  • separation without consent for two and five years

What happens when a married couple splits up without divorcing? Sometimes this is not done by consent and a couple may separate for longer periods of time. Separation without consent for two and five years can allow you to file for divorce.

While many people may assume that a divorce always takes place in court, this is not always necessarily the case if there isn’t a dispute. Usually divorce solicitors can help with financial decisions such as what will happen with a couple’s finances and help decide on how to split up property. If children are involved, solicitors can also help.

Different laws may apply to expats living outside of the UK. The ground for divorce in EU countries may be different.