Learn more about what constitutes unreasonable behaviour in divorce and how it could be considered in your divorce settlement.
What constitutes unreasonable behaviour in divorce?
No one wants their marriage to end in divorce. Sadly, if one spouse is sabotaging the relationship with unreasonable behaviour, it’s likely that divorce proceedings will be put in motion. Unreasonable behaviour in divorce, describes a partner behaving in a way that means the other spouse can no longer be expected to live with them.
The most common forms of unreasonable behaviour
Divorcing on grounds of unreasonable behaviour is incredibly common, and these behaviours can range from the mild yet intolerable, to the severe and inexcusable. Ultimately, if these behaviours make living together unbearable then filing for divorce is often considered to be the next step. Time and time again, the same behaviours bubble to the surface, inevitably concluding in divorce.
Forms of unreasonable behaviour include:
One of the most serious and sadly the most common forms of unreasonable behaviour in divorce, domestic abuse can manifest in many forms. From physical abuse resulting in injuries and subsequent medical treatment, to verbal, mental abuse and the threat of physical violence. As well as persistent shouting and frightening behaviour that is having a detrimental impact on the overall mental wellbeing of the spouse.
Disagreements over finances are common between couples. But when one partner is financially reckless, it can place the entire family into financial jeopardy. Racking up huge debts due to irresponsible spending or a gambling addiction is another unreasonable behaviour, culminating in divorce. Refusing to seek help for spending issues, or continuing regardless of the financial implications, is classed as unreasonable behaviour.
On the other end of the financial spectrum, if one spouse is excessively frugal it can also be considered as unreasonable behaviour. If their control of the family finances is having a detrimental impact on the overall wellbeing and the quality of life of their spouse and family, then divorce for unreasonable behaviour is likely.
A lack of affection between couples can lead to isolation and resentment. Sadly, it’s a vicious circle that’s difficult to get out of. A lack of affection could mean a specific lack of sexual intimacy or/as well as a lack of general affection, such as physical contact. This unreasonable behaviour is usually ongoing when divorce is filed.
Addictive behaviours such as alcoholism can accelerate the breakdown of any marriage. This unreasonable behaviour can make living with a spouse unbearable. Especially if it leads to violence, domestic abuse and serious financial implications. If the spouse refuses to seek help or repeatedly reverses any kind of progress, then this is considered unreasonable.
Milder forms of unreasonable behaviour in divorce
Not all relationships break down over extreme, unreasonable behaviours. In some circumstances, couples have drifted apart, and their marriage has broken down regardless. Some couples see these milder examples of unreasonable behaviour as the most efficient way to get divorced, rather than waiting the standard 2 years after marriage to start divorce proceedings.
These milder forms include:
- Refusing to talk about marital problems
A lack of communication can plague any marriage, but if those issues are related to the state of their relationship and one spouse refuses to discuss these problems, and any attempts to resolve and discuss these issues have been refused by their spouse then this behaviour is considered unreasonable and is grounds for divorce.
- Failing to help around the house
Complaining about your partner not helping with the housework is part of an ongoing struggle between any couple. However, if one spouse is unwilling to help with the running of the household, including with household chores, shopping, taking children to school or Drs appointments, despite repeated requests for help, then filing for divorce due to unreasonable behaviour is common.
- Partner working long hours and often away from home
When one partner is working long hours and is away from home for extended periods, it can lead to feelings of resentment, isolation and loneliness. This isolation can have a detrimental impact on the mental wellbeing of the “suffering” spouse and if these issues go unresolved then this could be classed as unreasonable behaviour and grounds for divorce.
- Partner prefers to spend their time elsewhere
When partners choose to spend their free time playing video games, out socialising (excessively) or spending time with friends and other family, these less serious behaviours can result couples drifting apart, feelings of unappreciation and bitterness which can eventually lead to divorce.
How do I prove unreasonable behaviour?
We’ve discussed how divorcing on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour describes how one partners’ actions can make living with them and continuing the marriage intolerable for the other party. For the victimised spouse, the idea of collecting evidence to prove this behaviour can be daunting, especially if the relationship is volatile. However with the upcoming change in the law, you may be spared this invasive requirement.
This Autumn, The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020, will come into force. Essentially removing the requirement to show fault in order to obtain a divorce. This Act also means that couples can collectively breathe a sigh of relief as this Act will also allow joint applications for a divorce, making the process easier for everyone involved.
Unreasonable behaviour and your settlement
When a spouse decides to file for divorce on grounds of unreasonable behaviour, they’re likely to feel hurt, distressed and victimised. Despite these feelings, it’s important to know that regardless of the nature of their relationship and the unreasonable behaviour they’ve filed, it won’t play any part in terms of their financial settlement. It’s unlikely that either party will be penalised in this way, in fact priority is usually given to the needs of any children you might have together. Something which is worth bearing in mind, even if you consider yourself to be the innocent party.
Filing for unreasonable behaviour in divorce is common, but if you still have reservations about your marital position, it’s important to seek legal advice as soon as possible for clarification.