Not fixing the loo door, regularly passing wind, not doing the ironing and insisting that the cats and dogs sleep in the marital bed are among the “unreasonable behaviour” details cited by people when seeking a divorce, a poll of solicitors has revealed.
Woolley & Co family law specialists revealed that among its clients from the past two years, unreasonable behaviour is the most common reason given for the breakdown of a marriage in the UK – but the current finger-pointing divorce system forces estranged couples to go further and give specific reasons why they don’t want to stay together.
The firm encourages its own clients not to inflame divorce proceedings by choosing grounds which their partner might choose to argue against but instead to seek a non-confrontational approach to ensure the process is as quick and painless as possible.
And it believes a change in the law to allow a no fault divorce could cut the cost and heartache for thousands of couples divorcing each year rather than setting them at loggerheads.
“Unreasonable behaviour covers a multitude of sins. Anything can seem like unreasonable behaviour if a marriage is not working, from leaving underwear on the floor to disappearing for a life at sea,” said Andrew Woolley, managing partner of Woolley & Co, which has family law experts across the Midlands, and South.
“Having to submit reasons can itself even inflame the situation. One party may feel aggrieved at the points raised and so dispute them, drawing out the divorce process.
“Some clients come to us initially wanting to cite all kinds of detailed and personal examples as grounds for divorce. But our advice is to keep the examples as simple and factual as possible, ones the other party will find it difficult to argue against. Indeed if the couple are still on good terms, we encourage them to agree the wording if possible between them so there are no nasty surprises when the court papers are received.
“If a couple want to divorce amicably, they should not have to make accusations about each other but just accept that things didn’t work out and it was no one’s fault. A no fault divorce option would allow couples to start new lives apart as painlessly as possible.”
Woolley & Co’s lawyers revealed a number of recurring examples of unreasonable behaviour, such as lack of emotional support and financial irresponsibility. Other, more unusual incidents included having sexual contact with a vacuum cleaner, a wife moving her boyfriend into the marital home, cross dressing and lying about their identity.
Woolley & Co has 12 family law experts based across the Midlands, south and London, tackling all aspects of family law. For more advice, visit www.family-lawfirm.co.uk
Other recent examples of unreasonable behaviour include:
- She can’t drive
- Alcohol dependency
- He doesn’t like my family
- Lack of/too much intimacy
- We don’t talk
- Secret transvestite
- She volunteers me for everything
- She is depressed
- He’s addicted to online games
- He is addicted to sex lines
- He has a secret love child
- He pretended to win the Lottery