Divorce On Unreasonable Behaviour: What do the new UK laws mean?


Divorce applications for unreasonable behaviour are one of the most common petitions in England and Wales. They demonstrate a spouse has behaved so unreasonably that it would be unjust to remain married.

If you are on the receiving end of any hurtful and unreasonable conduct, it is necessary to cite the specific allegations. You must present evidence accordingly to demonstrate a domestic living situation that is physically and mentally impossible to endure.

What to consider in your application:

Ultimately, the court requires the petitioner needs to provide several relevant examples. The court application must state what that unreasonable behaviour was, when it occurred, and how it made the petitioner feel. It will usually require 4-5 paragraphs with explanations regarding each allegation made. Make sure the allegations are clear, concise, and corroborated with dates and times.

Types of allegations:

The allegations can be severe: domestic abuse, emotional abuse, family disputes, inappropriate relationships with other people. Abusive behaviours could also be a lack of socialising together, sharing separate beds, working long hours, and spending no time together. It is the courts’ view that one spouse controlling the other through finances is a form of cohesive control. However, there is not a definitive list of unreasonable behaviours granting a divorce petition.

Nevertheless, it is essential to note that although the court may see these behaviours as unreasonable, it must be to the extent that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. Otherwise, the petition will not be granted. Suppose the petitioner continues to cohabit with their spouse for a cumulative period of more than six months after the last alleged unreasonable behaviour. In that case, the court may refuse to grant the petition. Notably, living in the same house is different from cohabitation. If you live separate lives, for example, if you do not sleep in the same bed or if you do not eat together, then the court may disregard the six-month timeframe.

Time is of the essence!

Despite this, the court may be more concerned the longer you live separately in the same house. Therefore, it is essential to bring the claim as soon as possible after the last alleged unreasonable behaviour.

How we can help you:

We work with you by showing you ways to bridge any gaps causing the breakdown. We act as a coach and an advisor. Together, we promote your relationship and encourage reconciliation. Sometimes, there can be callous times during the marriage. Issues get complicated. We understand. We help you to see that better, too. However, sometimes we are not able to resolve matters, and divorce is the only option. If you feel a divorce needs to be granted for unreasonable behaviour, let us guide you through the process. We help secure you a less painful divorce, considering all your circumstances. At CourtTogether, we act as your mediator, mentor, coach, and friend. Discover how you can better work through this emotionally challenging time.

McKenzie Friend

Citizens Advice