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COVID-19 UPDATE: Goodwins is committed to delivering high-quality service while keeping our staff and clients safe. Currently, courts remain open and our team will continue to operate as normal, but all consultations and meetings will now be made via video call. Click here to view our full response to COVID-19.

FAQ: What are the grounds for divorce in England and Wales?

There are five situations that can be classed as grounds for divorce. If your situation falls into one of these categories, then you can apply for a divorce:


If your husband or wife has had sexual intercourse with someone else of the opposite sex, this is classed as adultery. As a caveat, if you have chosen to live with them for more than six months after finding out, then you cannot use adultery as a reason to start divorce proceedings.

Unreasonable Behaviour

There are several types of behaviour that can be classed as ‘unreasonable’ and therefore grounds for divorce. They are:

  • Physical violence
  • Verbal abuse (threats and insults)
  • Drunkenness or drug abuse
  • Refusing to pay for housekeeping

For more information on unreasonable behaviour, check out our more detailed articles below:


If your husband or wife has left you, this qualifies as desertion as long as the following factors are included:

  • They left without your agreement
  • They left to end your relationship
  • They left without good reason for leaving
  • They have been away for more than two years

Apart for more than two years

If you and your spouse have been living apart for two years, this is grounds for divorce. However, this does require both parties to agree to divorce in writing.

Apart for more than five years

Unlike the above, being apart for five years does not require both parties to agree to divorce in writing.

Want to discuss your options? You can get in touch with us today to book an initial fixed fee consultation for a confidential discussion and we’ll be happy to help. We are located in Harrow, London, with on site car parking and accessible from public transport links. Alternatively, if you are overseas we can arrange a Skype call with you if it is more convenient.


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