How to stay amicable if you’re using ‘unreasonable behaviour’ to divorce

Using unreasonable behavior as the reason for divorce? Write a statement that will allow you to remain amicable

Originally published on 28th September 2018 at 10:19 AM

Reading time: 2 mins

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

However, before we jump in, it’s worth checking that you’ve considered the other options that are available. The other reasons that can be used to divorce in England and Wales are; desertion, five years of separation, adultery or two years separation.

Many couples aren’t aware that two years of separation can be used even if you’re still living under the same roof. The courts are aware that moving out sometimes isn’t an option financially or if you have children. If you’ve not shared a bed, cooked together or shared bills and bank accounts etc for two or more years – you can still use this as the reason if you both agree to the divorce. Find out more here.

If waiting two years just isn’t an option, here are some points to remember to remain amicable when using unreasonable behaviour.

1. The behaviour statement doesn’t influence your financial settlement or childcare arrangements

Many people think that the behaviour petition will influence how much they get in the settlement or who gets primary care of the kids post-divorce. This isn’t the case. The legal process of ending your marriage is an entirely separate process.

2. It’s not a public document

Behaviour petitions often contain very personal and sensitive information. Therefore, you can rest assured that divorce petitions are not publicly available (unless your case is escalated to the High Court which is very rare). The only people who will have access to it are; you, your ex, the courts and any third parties you use (e.g. amicable or lawyers).

3. You don’t have to write lots of harsh examples about your ex

You only need to give four to five examples, a list of milder examples that can be used are here.

Kate Daly

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4. Discuss what’s been written before you kick off the divorce

It is advisable that you discuss the behaviour statement with your ex so you/they don’t receive it through the post without warning. It’s never nice for someone to receive a list of their bad behaviour laid bare in black and white and can often spark a fall out if not dealt with in the right way. Seek help if you feel you need additional support in navigating this part.

The key to remaining amicable is to remember that often if you want to move on, unreasonable behaviour is the only option. Unfortunately, our legal system does not yet offer no-fault divorce as an option. So be pragmatic. If you or your ex are finding the behaviour statement difficult, it’s often due to the emotions involved, get in touch for advice and support so you dodge avoidable fallouts.

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

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Rebecca Jones
Rebecca Jones
Rebecca has a background in family law and has also been through her own divorce. Rebecca is fantastic at offering pragmatic advice and is a fountain of knowledge when it comes to the legalities around divorce and separation.

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