Although unreasonable behaviour is one of the most commonly used grounds, it does not make the divorce process any more manageable and often leaves people confused with many questions. Therefore, we have answered some of the most commonly asked questions regarding the topic.
What is unreasonable behaviour?
Put simply, unreasonable behaviour is one of the five grounds available for divorce that allows Petitioners (the person instigating the divorce) to apply for a divorce. The term unreasonable behaviour describes the actions of a spouse which has directly led to the irretrievable breakdown of a marriage.
It is important to understand there is no definitive list for unreasonable behaviour matters. It could be a single incident or a series of less severe incidents.
If there is a long history of unreasonable behaviour during the divorce process, the usual rule is to rely upon the first, worst, and last events. The most important aspect of drafting these allegations is to seek the help of a lawyer. A good lawyer will be able to draft a petition on your behalf and provide you with expert court representation.
What types of behaviour are considered unreasonable?
To prove unreasonable behaviour, the petitioner must cite specific allegations against a spouse that have caused the relationship to break down. The most common types of unreasonable behaviour include:
- Unreasonable sexual demands
- Excessive/lack of sex
- Domestic abuse
- Debt/financial recklessness
- Relationship with another person
- Social isolation
- Excessive/lack of socialising
- Alcohol and drug abuse
In many cases, relationships can fail without there being any extreme behaviour such as those above. Therefore, in these circumstances, it is necessary to find a series of less severe behaviours. For example:
- The respondent (who is not instigating the divorce) works long hours and is never at home.
- The respondent prefers to spend time with a pet rather than the petitioner.
- There is often arguments as a result of the respondent being unemployed and always being under the petitioner’s feet.
If you need help drafting a divorce petition, get in contact with us today to connect you to a family law lawyer. Give us a call on 020 3795 9020, we can help.
What is the time frame for using unreasonable behaviour?
If you continue cohabiting with your partner/spouse for a period of longer than 6 months after the last alleged unreasonable behaviour, the Court may refuse to grant the petition. This is because the longer the cohabitation, the less likely the consideration holds weight in Court as you are presenting that you can still live together.
Are you able to live with your spouse but not cohabit?
In short, yes. Living in the same house is not the same as cohabitation. If you decide to continue to live under the same roof and live separate lives, the Court may disregard the six-month time frame. If you choose to stay living together, you should refrain from the following:
- Sleeping in bed together
- Engaging in activities together, such as exercising or walking the dog
- Engaging in sexual activity
- Eating together
- Playing games together
This list is not definitive of all the activities to avoid. It simply acts as a rough guideline of what to avoid.
The longer you live separately in the same house, the more concerns the Court will have with a divorce/dissolution using unreasonable behaviour. Therefore, you should always start the divorce proceedings within six months to avoid any issues.
Should you defend a divorce petition?
In the UK, if you wish to divorce without waiting two years, someone must be “blamed” for the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. Often, it is difficult for people to accept, mainly when both individuals are to blame. The three most common reasons people do not defend their petition are:
- The petition will remain completely private, meaning no one will ever see the reasons for the irretrievable breakdown.
- Layer’s fees for an undefended petition are lower than a contested petition.
- The Court is much stricter on scrutinising the allegations of unreasonable behaviour, which may cause issues if they are more “trivial”.
In most cases, a judge will grant a divorce when both parties mutually agree to dissolve the marriage and split the assets fairly. If a respondent is concerned about the unreasonable behaviour accusations, they can decide not to defend it on the condition that it cannot be used in later proceedings, such as the child arrangement and financial proceedings.
How can a lawyer help?
An experienced family law lawyer will aim to guide you towards a fair settlement and ensure that future legal disagreements with your spouse are avoided.
Most importantly, a lawyer will ensure that you have all your documents and papers filled in correctly, ensuring no mistakes within the divorce process. Whatsmore, a lawyer will guide you through the divorce procedure from start to finish and notify you of any options you may have initially neglected.