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Filing a divorce petition? Why you should take legal advice first.

In a recent case which hit national headlines, the Court of Appeal was asked to overturn a family court ruling which would not allow a woman to end her marriage of 39 years to her husband, who contested the divorce. 

In a highly unusual judgement, the appeal judge said “It is not a ground for divorce if you find yourself in a wretchedly unhappy marriage – people may say it should be”.

Whilst there is increasing pressure to change the law to allow divorces when neither party has made an allegation of fault, as the law currently stands there is only one ground for divorce: that is the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, which can be proved by one of five facts, namely:

  1. The respondent has committed adultery;
  2. The respondent has behaved in such a way that the petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with the respondent (otherwise known as unreasonable behaviour);
  3. The respondent has deserted the petitioner for a period of at least 2 years;
  4. The parties have been separated for two years and the respondent consents to the divorce;
  5. The parties have been separated for five years.

As it currently stands, the unhappy wife is now left with waiting for the five-year separation period to elapse before she can divorce.

Divorce is a complicated area of law and, if you are considering a divorce it is important to ensure that you take the appropriate legal advice before filing your petition with the Court.

If you would like more advice on the subject, you can telephone our Solihull office on 0121 289 3500 and arrange a convenient time to chat with one of our dedicated experts. 

Jane Chandler is an Associate Solicitor based in our Solihull office. You can telephone her on 0121 685 8126 or email her at

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