Relationship Breakdown FAQ


Here you will find the answers to many frequently asked questions relating to relationship breakdown and separation.

What are the grounds for divorce?

You will need to demonstrate that your marriage has irretrievably broken down, by being able to prove one of the following five facts:

  • Your spouse has committed adultery
  • Your spouse has demonstrated unreasonable behaviour
  • Your partner has left / deserted you for a continuous period of 2 years
  • You have been separated for at least 2 years and you both agree to the divorce
  • You have been separated for at least 5 years - it doesn’t matter if your partner doesn’t agree to the divorce
  • If you have been married for less than 2 years, you can only use unreasonable behaviour, adultery or desertion as your reason for getting divorced.

How long does a divorce take?

A divorce can take between 6-8 months if not disputed, from issuing the petition to the Decree Absolute. If the divorce or finances are disputed, then this timescale can be longer depending on when such issues are resolved.

Do I have to go to court?

If you have agreed your divorce and financial arrangements, then you do not need to attend court. Your divorce will be processed through the court as a paperwork exercise instead. If you have not or are unable to agree your financial arrangements, you will need to attend court.

We are cohabiting, what happens if we separate?

If you have not put in place a ‘living together agreement’, any of the following could apply.

  • If you do not own the property in which you live or you do not own a share of the house in which you live you have no automatic right to stay there.
  • Other than child maintenance, you have no right to receive maintenance for yourself from your ex-partner.
  • If you live in a rented property together and the tenancy is in your ex partner’s sole name you have no right to stay if you are asked to leave.
  • If the possessions within the property are owned by or were purchased by your ex-partner, you have no automatic right to a share of those possessions.