How to use examples of unreasonable behaviour to divorce your partner

Originally published on 28th September 2018 at 10:20 AM
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No-fault divorce was introduced in England and Wales on the 6th of April 2022 which removes the need to choose one of the five facts to support the 'irretrievable' breakdown of a marriage. All the information below is applicable to the previous system, and divorces that were issued before the 6th of April 2022.

You can read more about this change in our no-fault divorce guide

According to the Office of National Statistics, unreasonable behaviour is the most used grounds for divorce. This is also the most used grounds for the dissolution of civil partnerships. As we do not yet have ‘no-fault divorce’ in England and Wales (though UK divorce law is changing in late 2021 and no-fault divorce will be available to use), one person has to divorce the other, turning the process into a blame game. This can cause unnecessary acrimony at times of high emotional stress. Read our guide on examples of unreasonable behaviour and how to use them, to keep your divorce as amicable as possible.

Guide to examples for unreasonable behaviour

Step one: Have you done your research?

There are five reasons you can use to prove to the courts that your marriage has broken down past the point of repair. For example, have you been living independently for two years or have you been apart for over five years? Read amicable’s guide on all the grounds for divorce here if you’re unsure.

Unreasonable behaviour is the most commonly used grounds for divorce and if you agree this is the most relevant for you, then you and your ex must first agree who is going to divorce who.

Step two: Petitioner Vs respondent – what’s the difference?

The petitioner is the person who starts the divorce. This involves submitting in most of the paperwork and dealing with the court. The respondent is the person who ‘responds’ to the petition, so is the one who has ‘behaved unreasonably’.

Step three: What unreasonable behaviour examples can be used to divorce or end a civil partnership?

The court needs proof that your marriage has broken down, some examples of this behaviour include;

  • Lack of emotional support
  • Violence / Physical abuse
  • Verbal abuse
  • Financially irresponsible e.g. failure to support the family, household costs.
  • Lack of support in general, around the house, in your career etc
  • Gambling on a frequent basis and/or creating debt without your knowledge
  • Drug/alcohol abuse
  • Refusal to discuss/work on issues within the marriage
  • Not wanting to engage in any sexual or physical relations
  • Limited socialising happens as a couple
  • Living separately (one partner moving out)

This is not an exhaustive list, however, does show examples that can be used for the unreasonable behaviour statement.

Step four: How should I word examples of unreasonable behaviour?

You can use the above examples of unreasonable behaviour as the basic structure of your behaviour statement, however, these will not be enough for the court to decide whether your divorce or separation should be allowed. You will need to provide specific examples (around five in total) about what, when and how it made you feel. For example;

“The Petitioner has not had sexual relations with the Respondent since March 2015. This made the Petitioner feel lonely and isolated.”

“The Respondent stopped making financial contributions to the family home in January 2015 which left the Petitioner paying for all the household bills, causing the Petitioner stress and anxiety.”

“The Respondent and the Petitioner stopped socialising together in January 2015 which led the Petitioner to feel…”

If you are doing your petition online, these will need to be in the first person. For example:

My husband and I stopped socialising together in January 2015 which led me to feel…”

Anthony Syder
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Step five: Reducing acrimony

If you want to have an amicable separation, we recommend sharing the examples of unreasonable behaviour that you have chosen with your ex before they receive them via the court. This will be less of a shock to them and make them feel more involved with the process. It’s important for you to remember and for your ex to realise that this is a means to an end. If you are amicable, it may be wise for your ex to write the examples of their behaviour themselves so any conflict between you can be minimised. This will also help with the timescale for the divorce/ dissolution process. If your ex receives the paperwork and does not agree with the examples of unreasonable behaviour, this can cause delays in your divorce/ dissolution.

If you have any questions, or would like some support on divorce or how to divorce online, please book a free 15-minute call with one of our experts here.


What are examples of unreasonable behaviour?

There are many examples of unreasonable behaviour, however, the court prefer recent examples and these must be based on the respondent's behaviour (fault-based).

How long does a divorce take for unreasonable behaviour?

This will depend on various factors such as how cooperative your ex is, how organised you are and whether you will be applying for a financial remedy order. Simple divorces usually take around four months to complete if your ex cooperates.

What are reasonable grounds for divorce?

You can use unreasonable behaviour as your fact to support that your marriage has broken down. Unreasonable behaviour doesn't require consent but you must choose examples of your spouses behaviour where they are at fault.

Read More

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Speak to an amicable Divorce Specialist to understand your options and next steps for untying the knot, amicably.

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Comments (10)

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Nadia Arthur
24.02.2018 22:16

I got married in 2015, my husband was verbally abusive, he moved out October 2016 and return back in December 2016 to say that he will change. He moved back but this did not change, after 4 months he started his abusive behaviour again. Now what he is doing is not talking to me, we do not sleep on the same bed, we both do our own things. This month he did not even contributed financially. I spoke to him and requested he moved out the house, which is in my name and I bought it before we got married. He has insisting that he is not moving out, unless we both go and get divorce. He has the marriage certificate and will not give it to me. I am fed up with leaving like strangers. I want to apply for divorce on grounds of unreasonable behaviour. I came across your details during web search. I would appreciate your help in drafting my divorce form.

Margaret mason
19.03.2018 12:58

Controlling. Lack of emotional support. Personal sexual issues.

gerard dignam
16.05.2018 11:42

very helpful thank you

niyitanga fiston
28.06.2018 12:53


Louise Floyd
28.06.2018 14:03

I got Married in June 2016 after 18 months found out husband was having emotional affair, he said he fell out of love with me years before we married but never communicated this to me. At the same time I was going through a tough time just found out had a BRCA 2 gene and elected for removal of overies and fallopian tubes and had no emotional support. We have a son together and always wanted to run my own business from home but would never support me. I moved out in May 2018 and filed for Divorce in january 2018 just recieved letter back saying judge as not accepted grounds of unreasonable behaviour. need help to resubmit petition

Hannah Hodgkinson
28.06.2018 14:03

Sorry to hear you’re going through a difficult time, please schedule a call here and one of our Divorce Coaches will talk you through the options:

Alkina Whitfield
16.08.2018 20:41

I not want to get divorce but what can I do because he send me a papers If I see there are the untruth reason please can you contact me to know how to move of from the divorce and save a divorce.

Hannah Hodgkinson
16.08.2018 20:41

Hi Alkina, call us on 0203 004 4695 and we’ll talk through your options.

11.08.2019 14:54

My wife started making excuses in May 8th about work meetings and going to the gym and having work done on her car after 9pm at a garage.she said she was going to have drop links done on her car on Saturday the 13th and was gone all day. She walked out on me on Sunday the 14th July to stay at her mums, but went to live with another man instead.

14.12.2021 22:19

I would like further advice on no fault divorces