Making sure you’re on firm ground in divorce

10th March 2015 by


In June 2014, the Telegraph ran a story about a man in India who applied to Bombay High Court for a divorce on the grounds that his wife had become fat and that he could no longer reasonably have sexual relations with her.

The court dismissed his application for divorce.

In England and Wales (family law in Scotland is slightly different) there are five grounds on which a petitioner may apply for a divorce and, thankfully, gaining weight is not one of them.

Five facts for getting a divorce

The petitioner (person applying for divorce) must prove one of the following:

  • Adultery – the petitioner’s spouse has committed adultery and it is intolerable to continue living with them.
  • Unreasonable behaviour – the petitioner’s spouse has behaved in a way that is intolerable, e.g, physical or verbal abuse, drunkenness or drug taking, etc.
  • Desertion – the petitioner’s spouse has deserted them for at least two years.
  • The spouses have lived apart for at least two years and both agree to a divorce.
  • The spouses have lived apart for at least five years.

Gaining weight is not unreasonable behaviour

Studies have shown that in England and Wales unreasonable behaviour is cited as the reason for seeking a divorce in almost half of all applications. Click here to read our report.

Unreasonable behaviour can be anything which makes it intolerable for the petitioner to continue living with their spouse. It does not have to be particularly unscrupulous behaviour and the respondent (person responding to the divorce petition) may be more likely to defend a divorce (object to it) if the petitioner cites anything which could be considered defamatory.
But the petitioner must be able to reasonably prove to the court that the respondent’s behaviour is intolerable.

It’s best to keep it simple. If both spouses agree, for example, that one of them was devoting too much time to their career, then the court may well see this as enough of a reason for the marriage to be dissolved.

Do you need legal advice on grounds for divorce?

Here at Healys, our divorce solicitors in London and Brighton are highly experienced at drafting divorce petitions. Our extensive knowledge of family law, and relevant case law, means that we can advise you as to the best course of action in seeking a divorce and filling out a divorce petition.

We are fully aware of the difficult nature of divorce and always listen carefully and sensitively to your circumstances so that we may offer the best advice for your particular circumstances.

If you are unsure whether you are able to apply for a divorce, or you would like our help in making the application to a court, please call our offices today or email us at