Legal Eagle: The grounds for a divorce needed to end a marriage

My husband and I have been married for three years. Over the past year our relationship has gone downhill due to my husband's alcoholism which has resulted in heated arguments witnessed by our young children. I have ensured that the house is in my sole name, how do I get a divorce and does he have any financial right to the home where the children and I live?

If you do wish to go ahead with the divorce you must file a Divorce Petition to the Court and explain that you regard your marriage as having “irretrievably broken down”.

Following confirmation of irretrievable breakdown you must then explain that the reason why you wish to Divorce is owing to one of the following facts:

l That your husband has;

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Committed adultery and you find it intolerable to live with him;

l Behaved in such a way you cannot reasonably be expected to live with him;

l Deserted you for two years;

l Lived apart from you for two years and consents to the divorce;

l Lived apart from you for five years.

The fact most applicable to your situation is that he has behaved in such a way you cannot reasonably be expected to live with him. Within the petition you will need to outline the particulars in respect of your husband’s ‘unreasonable behaviour’ e.g. your husband’s alcoholism, any domestic incidents which have occurred as a result.

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“For better or for worse” comes to mind in respect of your home and despite the fact that the house is in your name, your husband will have a financial right to the property. A marriage creates a financial bond and upon divorce, finances need to be negotiated and all assets, property and debt must be “pooled”. The starting point for negotiations is 50:50. If negotiations cannot settle the matter you can apply to the court for a financial order in regards to the ownership of the home. This can only be done once you have started the paperwork for divorce.  If a financial agreement can be reached, a “Consent Order” can be submitted to the Court at the same time as your application for Decree Absolute. This type of order ensures that neither party can then make further claims against each other and finalises matters.

The court will take into consideration earnings, expenses, standard of living and your children to ensure that division of assets is fair, we would therefore recommend that your start to pull together your financial information now in preparation for the paperwork and negotiations.

Ben Hoare Bell LLP has specialist family solicitors to advise on issues such as this. To speak to a solicitor, call 0191 565 3112 or email [email protected]