Brexit: the divorce battleground?

As Brexit rumbles on with the UK preparing for its official ‘divorce’ from the EU, it seems the 2016 referendum result could be impacting on more personal relationships, too.

After all, if one partner voted leave and the other voted stay, the resulting ongoing debate which has been unleashed is hardly the grounds for a peaceful partnership.

While it’s unlikely that the vote would have seriously impacted a stable marriage, those already in volatile waters could have found themselves hitting the rocks. In fact, one savvy Dutch entrepreneur has even set up a ‘Brexit Hotel‘ for couples on the brink of divorce. It’s a similar story in the US, with polarised politics causing friction between couples from the Trump and Clinton camps respectively.

The final straw

Was the referendum the last straw for your marriage? Or has something else come along to disrupt an already-delicate balance? When your marriage reaches crisis point, the question many people ask is: should I stay or should I go?

The divorce rate is actually declining. This is partially due to more people choosing to live together rather than get married. However, the number of divorces is still dropping. Good news, maybe. But if you genuinely feel that your marriage can’t go on, sometimes it is the right answer.

Unfortunately, citing differences over Brexit won’t get you very far in the divorce courts. Currently, the UK just has one ground for divorce, which is ‘irretrievable breakdown’.

In turn, this is divided into three areas:

1. Adultery

You can’t use this reason if you’ve lived together as a couple for over six months after the infidelity. Currently this also can’t be used by same-sex couples.

See also  Surrogacy and parental orders: what you need to know

2. Unreasonable behaviour

If you feel your spouse has acted in a way which makes it untenable to continue your marriage.

3. Separation

In England and Wales you must have been separated for two years if you both agree to the divorce, or five years if one of you does not consent.

You can also cite desertion if you have been abandoned without consent for more than two years.

Finding fault

Adultery and unreasonable behaviour are seen as ‘fault-based’ divorce, as this is attributing blame. This can sometimes fuel the flames of an already heated situation. It’s important for couples to remember they must still sort out their financial situation. For those with children, they will still need some contact after the divorce.

There are some arguments for the UK to move away from fault-based divorce for these reasons. With such long waiting times to use the separation grounds, many couples are forced into seeking a fault-based divorce.

This can sometimes add unnecessary acrimony. Couples are also forced to wait to sort out finances, property and arrangements for their children. In some – thankfully rare – cases, one partner can be ‘locked in‘ to a marriage they are desperate to leave, if their spouse won’t agree to a divorce.

Politics or otherwise, whatever your reasons for seeking a divorce, it’s important to take legal advice from a solicitor before starting your proceedings.

The Lester Aldridge family team deal with these and other issues on a regular basis and are frequently instructed by clients regarding divorce proceedings.

lester-aldridge-logoIf you would like to discuss any aspect of separation, arrangements for your children or wish to protect your assets prior to getting married, contact the family team on 01202 786161 or email

About Lester Aldridge LLP

Lester Aldridge LLP is a nationally recognised law firm with offices in London, Bournemouth and Southampton. The family team are leaders in their field. Jane, Jo and Rosie are specialist family solicitors with a wealth of experience in all areas of family law from divorce to children, prenuptial agreements to the settlement of financial disputes and everything in between. These women are feisty when they need to be. But their approach is designed to reduce conflict in order to ensure the best possible outcome. They recognise that family issues can be extremely emotional and they offer access to specialist advice delivered in a friendly, approachable and understandable way designed to guide you from start to finish. If you would like an informal, no-obligation chat with Jane, Jo or Rosie please telephone 03300 539754.