As a divorce lawyer I am often asked what is “unreasonable behaviour”. When someone in England or Wales is contemplating a divorce they have to consider what reason they will proceed. Under English law a divorce is based on irretrievable breakdown but has to be proved by one of five facts, including amongst other’s “unreasonable behaviour”.

So, what does this mean? Well from a lawyer’s perspective it is both subjective and objective. For the client it is what behaviour they find unreasonable. It can be as simple as feeling there is no communication, no real love or affection from their spouse, perhaps feeling unsupported (even if the spouse would say this is not the case). It can also be specific – if there has been domestic abuse for example.

The benefits of an “unreasonable behaviour” petition is that the person receiving it (known as the Respondent) doesn’t have to accept or admit to the alleged behaviour. They can say they don’t accept or admit it but agree that the marriage has broken down which will allow a divorce to continue.

The objective side to “unreasonable behaviour” is that a District Judge has to be satisfied that the marriage has broken down irretrievably and so he needs to consider the reasons given by the person issuing the petition (the Petitioner) is sufficient to satisfy this test.

Often “unreasonable behaviour” petitions are used because a marriage has broken down but the parties have not been separated a sufficient period to divorce on separation (minimum of 2 years) and sadly at present English Law does not give any other options for a swift no fault divorce.

For a initial consultation about divorce call Fiona Pawsey today on 01202 877400!

Fiona Pawsey
Article by Fiona Pawsey
Fiona has been practicing family law for over 12 years initially as a Legal Executive and then subsequently as a solicitor. Fiona is a trained collaborative solicitor, as well as a Resolution Panel Member. She is experienced in advising clients going through divorce or family breakdown, including financial settlements and disputes over children, in particular complex contact and residence issues. In addition to family law Fiona also deals with litigation, property transactions and residential Conveyancing

Leave a comment