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Valentine Gift or Divorce Papers?


It is that time of year again tomorrow when there is for many people the obligatory need to exchange flowers, chocolates and cards expressing their undying love for their fellow spouse or partner. However, for many people no gift will arrive from their spouse nor any card land on their desk or doorstep.

As a family lawyer, this got me wondering whether the lack of any card/gift expressing ones love for the other was grounds for divorce. Seems extreme, but for many the lack of such sentiment can be the final straw which shows the others lack of commitment or love in the relationship and to them shows further the example of their spouse’s unreasonable behaviour.

To convince the Court in England & Wales to grant a decree of Divorce is dependent on the court being convinced that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. To show the court that the marriage has broken down irretrievably the party starting the divorce, the petitioner, must prove one of five facts in accordance with the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. Those facts are Adultery, Unreasonable Behaviour, Desertion of 2 years or more and periods of separation one being 2 years with consent and the other 5 years without consent.

So, if periods of separation are not applicable then the only other options available to base a petition on involve blaming your spouse for the breakdown in the marriage.

I have drafted many petitions for clients that have cited the others “unreasonable behaviour” as the others lack of interest celebrating the marriage or recognising important days, which they consider examples of the other no longer wanting to affirm the relationship.

Although forgetting dates and not providing gifts or cards on special occasions, such as Valentine’s Day, would not be the cause of the divorce, it is the message behind forgetting that gift or card which starts the decline in the relationship. This coupled with other behaviour considered to be unreasonable, brings about the reference “failure to show love and affection” being cited on many a divorce petition.

My advice to those toying with the idea of maybe or maybe not getting a card or gift for that loved one tomorrow is that it’s a small gesture that may speak volumes about how your relationship is perceived. It’s still not too late…



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