“Unreasonable behaviour” is the most common ground for divorce in England. That does not mean that England is full of unreasonable people. Basically it just means that in all the circumstances of the marriage, it is not reasonable to expect the petitioner to stay living with the respondent.
The court does not ask for proof that someone has in fact behaved in some particularly outrageous way. Really what matters is the petitioner’s subjective feelings about the situation. For example, some wives might feel aggrieved that their husband goes for a drink with his work mates before coming home every night of the working week; others might regard it as perfectly normal and acceptable.
What matters of course is whether the petitioner feels herself to be neglected or disregarded by her husband doing this. So something which might be reasonable to one person can be unreasonable to another. The old lawyers’ mantra used to be to recite “the first, the worst and the last.” Generally speaking though we try to make the particulars as bland as possible, so long as they clear the hurdle. Judges know that once one party wants a divorce, there is no power on earth that will get the couple to stay together, and the Court protocol encourages lawyers to agree the particulars in advance.
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