Grounds for Divorce

Simply speaking, there is only one ground for divorce and that’s an irretrievable breakdown of your marriage.

However, you will have to prove the irretrievable breakdown of your marriage in one of five ways (it may be that you have more than one basis to commence divorce proceedings although you only need one reason):


You don’t necessarily need to know the identity of the person/s with whom your spouse has committed adultery with (the co-respondent) as long as your spouse openly admits to the adultery. If however, your spouse denies committing adultery, you will have to produce evidence to support your allegation.


You will be asked to provide details of your spouse’s behaviour within your divorce petition. You will need to explain why their behaviour makes it impossible for you to continue to remain married to your spouse.


Desertion can be used as a basis for divorce if your spouse has deserted you for a continuous period of at least two years. You will be asked to provide the date of your spouse’s desertion and the circumstances leading to your spouse leaving. If possible, you should demonstrate that you have not heard from your partner since the date that you state, and that you did not agree to the separation.

Two Years Separation by Consent

This basis can only be used in cases where you have lived apart for a continuous period of two years and you both consent to the divorce. You will be asked to provide the date of separation and briefly give the reason/s why you and your spouse decided to separate.

Five Years Separation

You do not require your spouse’s consent to divorce using this ground. You will be asked to state the date and reasons for your separation on your divorce petition.

If you’re confused about any legal jargon or legal instruction, see our ‘Glossary of Divorce and Family Law Terms’ in our ‘Store Cupboard’. And for a practical guide, see Life After Divorce.

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