Either of the spouses can start a divorce. The only ground for a divorce is that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. For you to start a divorce, the only way to show that the marriage has irretrievably broken down is to prove one of five facts:

  1. Your spouse has committed adultery and you find it intolerable to live with them.
  2. Your spouse has behaved in such a way that you cannot reasonably be expected to live with them.
  3. Your spouse has deserted you for two years or more.
  4. You have been separated for two years and you both agree to the divorce.
  5. You have been separated for five years.

If people do not want to wait for two years, they can only base the divorce on “adultery” or “behaviour” even if they both agree to the divorce. “Adultery” is an act of vaginal sexual intercourse by a married person with a person of the opposite sex. “Behaviour” does not need to be violence or other extreme behaviour. A combination of other behaviour can be sufficient. Many people use descriptions of their spouse working too much (or not working enough), showing too much (or too little) affection, combined with a number of other similar factors.

Any adultery or behaviour you want to rely on must be that of the respondent and not of the person who is starting the divorce. It also should have happened in the six months before you separated or at any time after you separated; or in the six months before the divorce application (the “petition”) is filed at court.

The dissolution of a civil partnership for same-sex couples is similar, but slightly different.

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1 August 2014 by Andrea Woelke