It may be that the only one of five facts available to rely on to get a divorce means proving the spouse has behaved in such a way that the person seeking the divorce cannot reasonably be expected to live with him or her. If that’s so, then generally speaking, most family law specialist solicitors recognise there is a thin line between saying enough in a petition to satisfy the Court that the marriage has broken down but not so much as to unnecessarily antagonise the person from whom the divorce is being sort. It’s what is often referred to as ‘mild behaviour particulars’.
So what is required? The allegations need to go beyond the ordinary consequences of a marriage breaking down.
· You must identify the problem: The Respondent was more interested in her ‘social network’ than me.
· You need to illustrate your complaint with examples: On numerous occasions the Respondent would come home from work and check her tablet to find out what her friends have been up to since she last logged on, instead of engaging with the Petitioner.
· Then you should explain how this behaviour affected you: The Respondent ignored questions about her day which made the Petitioner feel unworthy of her attention.
· And to show there are two sides to every story: This went on for months despite the Petitioner’s request to the Respondent to give family life her priority. She said it was her way of ‘switching off’. But it caused many arguments between the parties and left the Petitioner feeling undermined and unloved.
Would this be enough? I’m not convinced it would although it has to be said that the courts dislike contested divorces and generally speaking, if one party is petitioning, then the marriage is over. Some District Judges are more particular than others. But if there is enough there to show, so far as the Rules of court permit, that the marriage has broken down then my experience in our local courts is that the divorce is allowed to go through. Anecdotally, family lawyers and District Judges do not like behaviour petitions as it can focus attention on past behaviour rather than being future focused to ensure each party’s needs can be met. It is so often used as ‘a means to an end’ or putting it more bluntly, a way to get an immediate divorce before the court when there are other options available.
Contact me if you would like to know more.