Last Updated on 28.1.21 by Nicola Fraser
It may be snoring too loudly, turning vegetarian or even disagreeing over Brexit.
For when it comes to grounds for divorce, it seems that nowadays the causes are becoming increasingly unexpected.
Clients are now defining ‘unreasonable behaviour’ – the most common ground for divorce in UK law – in ever more imaginative ways.
It used to be the case that unreasonable behaviour would be about, say, a partner drinking too much, not taking care of the family finances or not helping with the home and children. But what we’re finding now is that this umbrella term is being used to cover a whole range of often unexpected reasons for divorce and marriage breakdown.
These include differing political views, being on the internet for hours on end and even spending too much time fishing.
My team and I here at Gorvins have decided to put together a list of the most popular ways people try to extract themselves from their marriage by citing unreasonable behaviour.
One pattern which seems to be emerging is that a change in lifestyle by one party triggers disgruntlement in the other. So we’re hearing from a lot of clients about the fact their partner has become a fanatical cyclist. Or has started going to the gym every day. Being fussy about food – maybe becoming vegetarian or giving up dairy and gluten – seems to be another aggravating factor.
The law says that in terms of unreasonable behaviour, petitioners have to prove that their partner’s behaviour made it impossible or intolerable to live with him or her. As a result, the relationship has irretrievably broken down.
Unreasonable behaviour is often regarded as a way of speeding up proceedings – if both parties agree to a divorce on these grounds a judge is unlikely to raise any objections. And it doesn’t necessitate having to otherwise wait two to five years for the divorce to be finalised.
Only recently Jamie Redknapp’s unreasonable behaviour was cited as the cause of his split from ex Louise. And while the ex-footballer didn’t contest the claim, it has been reported that Jamie, 44, is upset at claims the 19-year marriage had ended due to Louise, 43, has not been able to pursue her own career interests.
Divorce rates in England and Wales have increased for the first time this decade according to the Office for National Statistics.
However, though unreasonable behaviour can make a divorce happen quickly, some people don’t like the fact such grounds suggest seriously bad behaviour. Especially when neither party really wants to blame the other.
The problem is that in England and Wales if you want to get divorced quickly you have to cite adultery or unreasonable behaviour as the cause when sometimes it can just be a case of drifting apart.
However, what we are finding now is that people have far more broad-ranging reasons to cite grounds of unreasonable behaviour. Perhaps one party has put their mother first before their partner, or they want to spend all their free time fishing. It may be the case that one has fallen ill and the other doesn’t want to be the carer. We also hear a lot from women who are certain their husband is messing about or being unfaithful, but have no proof. I’ve even known couples to split up over holidays – when one won’t travel abroad and the other desperately wants to.
All of these reasons are now becoming increasingly common when it comes to using the grounds of unreasonable behaviour for wanting a divorce.
TOP REASONS FOR ‘UNREASONABLE BEHAVIOUR’
- Partner’s illness
- Going to the gym too much
- Being ungrateful for all the work their partner does
- Being hopeless with money
- Disagreement over respective politics
- Food fanaticisms
- Sex – either not enough, being offered too much, or loss of interest
- Suspicion other party messing around
- One partner wants to travel, the other doesn`t
- The party puts their mother before their spouse
- Spending too much time online or on the phone
- Not helping with children
- Refusing to give up smoking
Proportionality of Divorce Costs
Is it time to introduce ‘no-fault’ divorce?
Partner & Head of Family, Family Law