What Is Unreasonable Behaviour Divorce?
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No-Fault Divorce Is Now Divorce Law – The divorce law in England and Wales has changed to give way for a no-fault divorce. This means, from 6 April 2022, you no longer need to blame one party for the breakdown of your marriage using unreasonable behaviour grounds.
It is also no longer possible for the other party to contest the divorce, allowing the application to proceed without friction or additional costs.
Even though it’s no longer possible to submit a divorce application on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour the following information has been retained for informational purposes for those who are interested in how what constituted “inappropriate behaviour” was previously used in divorce proceedings under the old divorce laws.
Grounds for divorce unreasonable behaviour
Unreasonable behaviour was one of the five available grounds for divorce that enabled petitioners to apply for a divorce. It involved citing specific allegations of behaviour against a spouse that caused the breakdown of the marriage.
An unreasonable behaviour divorce was previously the most common type of divorce in the UK, with 36% of all husbands and 51% of all wives petitioning for divorce on those grounds.
This was before the divorce law changed to give way for a divorce without fault, which came into legal effect on 6 April 2022 in England and Wales. The ground-breaking reforms introducing no-fault divorce were aimed at reducing conflict between separating couples while also removing the possibility of contesting the outcome.
As previously stated, it is no longer possible to submit a divorce application on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour as the new no-fault divorce law only allows for one ground – the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.
Do I have to prove unreasonable behaviour?
Prior to the law change, you had to show that your spouse has behaved in such an unreasonable manner that you found it intolerable to live with them and therefore the marriage had irretrievably broken down.
You needed to provide the court with several written examples of the alleged unreasonable behaviour on the divorce petition, which consisted of the nature of their behaviour, when it occurred and how that behaviour made you feel.
Furthermore, an application for a divorce on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour had to be submitted within 6 months of the last incident of unreasonable behaviour occurring.
What is unreasonable behaviour in divorce?
The thought of citing a partner’s unreasonable behaviour as a reason, or ground for divorce could be daunting to some people. Fortunately, couples who want to get divorced but are worried about blaming their partner’s unreasonable behaviour can now get a divorce without apportioning blame or fault.
But purely for informational purposes, we have listed 10 common examples of unreasonable behaviour that were previously used in divorce proceedings under the old divorce laws to end a marriage before the introduction of no-fault divorce.
Examples of unreasonable behaviour divorce
Under the old divorce law, unreasonable behaviour was one of five available grounds for divorce. It was used in approximately 45% of all divorce applications, making it the most commonly used ground for divorce.
1) Domestic abuse
During our research, we found that domestic abuse was unfortunately one of the most common behaviours mentioned on divorce petitions – if you had been abused then it obviously served as grounds for divorce, but abuse can come in many forms so creating a list of 4 or 5 behaviours was often possible, just from this one action.
2) Emotional abuse
Emotional abuse is more common than you would hope it to be – and it tends to occur more in shorter marriages and with younger couples.
3) Family Disputes
Family disputes were probably the most common examples given by petitioners as they could happen for a multitude of reasons, and never made the marriage easy. The most common dispute was where a spouse’s parents or siblings didn’t get on with the husband or wife, making it difficult to socialise together.
4) Excessive gaming/social media use
Gaming and social media addictions have become a lot more common in recent years with the releases of popular online games and sites such as Fortnite and TikTok. An addiction to anything can put a lot of stress on the other party and excessive gaming or the use of social media would never have been mentioned on divorce petitions in the past, however the activity became surprisingly common.
5) Debts/financial recklessness
Some people are just simply bad with money, which could obviously cause marital issues. In some marriages, one party would run up debts without the other spouse knowing and this could have been due to an addiction to drugs or gambling for example. Being financially reckless can cause the other party a lot of stress as matrimonial finances are shared.
6) Inappropriate relationship with another person
Commonly known as adultery, it is the act of one party having sexual intercourse with another person of the opposite sex. However an inappropriate relationship with another person doesn’t necessarily mean that adultery occurred, and often it was enough for some partners to seek a divorce.
7) Verbal abuse/shouting or belittling
If a spouse had been verbally abusive on several occasions it may have contributed to the breakdown of the marriage. The same could be said for shouting and/or belittling as these types of actions can drive wedges between couples. Often these types of behaviours are coupled with other examples of unreasonable behaviour, such as excessive alcohol consumption or emotional abuse etc.
8) Lack of socialising together
It’s common that within a marriage each party has interests in different things, whether that is a hobby or socialising with friends, family or even pets. If parties to the marriage are socialising separately on a regular basis it could cause the breakdown of the marriage if the other party felt distanced or neglected.
Being drunk on a regular basis and behaving inappropriately towards their spouse was and unfortunately still is fairly common, however sad that fact may be. This appeared to have occurred even more during the COVID lockdowns as research revealed. Usually, excessive drunkenness leads to verbal abuse, shouting and belittling, but a range of other unreasonable behaviours could follow.
10) Lack of support
Petitioners for divorce often cited lack of support for things like household chores and childcare as reasons for divorce. There are however other types of lack of support, such as lack of emotional support or supporting a career etc. Lack of support usually led to other problems within the marriage, such as disagreements, socialising separately and even sleeping separately.
Divorce for unreasonable behaviour
From 6 April 2022, you no longer need to blame your partner for the breakdown of your marriage or civil partnership using unreasonable behaviour grounds.
If you need any further information on our divorce service options or free advice on what to include in your unreasonable behaviour divorce petition please call us on Tel: 01793 384 029 , email us or use the link below to purchase online.