0113 320 5000 Contact us

FAQ's - Proving your spouse is acting unreasonably

You are here

How do I prove unreasonable behaviour?
You need to establish that you found your spouse’s behaviour unreasonable, and that objectively, no-one could expect you both to live together because of that behaviour. Read more.

There are few defended divorces. This is because the defence of a divorce carries with it a cost implication, and delay and that if your marriage has broken down irretrievably, any behaviour referred to in a petition for divorce is unlikely to have any bearing upon any issues that may arise relating to children that you have, or the division of your matrimonial assets. Most would conclude that the allegations aren’t worth arguing about, and that they would rather spend their money dealing with financial issues or children issues. This is principally because your spouse does not get more money because he/she gives three or four examples of your behaviour which is said unreasonable, unless that behaviour is gross and obvious (e.g.. Violence or swindling out of money). So if you receive an unreasonable behaviour petition, although it may matter to you emotionally what is said about you, in legal terms, the allegations are unlikely to have any further effect.

This means that if you allege that your spouse has behaved in a way which you find unreasonable, you are unlikely to have to provide any further evidence other than the allegations stated in the petition. The divorce is unlikely to be defended.

It is good practice for a petition to be drafted omitting allegations which may be very contentious eg. Which implicate behaviour towards children in some way

It is also good practice for the behaviour to be agreed in a draft petition before the petition is issued. This is not obligatory.

If a divorce is defended one of three things may happen:

  • The divorce proceedings are not progressed. You do not get divorced.
  • Your spouse defends the petition, but argues that you should be divorced, but on some other ground e.g.. Your behaviour or adultery. This is called an Answer and Cross-Petition. This usually results in negotiations leading to an agreement as to how the divorce is to proceed because you both do after all want to be divorced. The agreement may be:
    • To proceed on the original petition after all and to come to some agreement about payment of legal fees of the divorce. You may both decide it is not worth spending the money in legal fees to argue about it.
    • To proceed on the basis of your petition and any cross-petition i.e. You each divorce each other usually because you have an agreement that you want to be divorced, but don’t want to pay each other’s legal costs of the proceedings. There is a court fee to pay of £200.00 to file an answer and cross-petition.
    • To proceed on the basis of the cross-petition
  • The divorce proceeds to trial and evidence is then to be submitted of the behaviour alleged to be unreasonable. Few would pursue this route because of the legal costs involved. At the end of the day, you may achieve a divorce, but also a large legal bill, and there may be other ways of divorcing which are cheaper, less acrimonious and swifter e.g. If specific allegations which are really objected to in a petition can be amended.