The video game ‘Fortnite’ has become a huge part of pop culture over the course of 2018. It is free to play, is accessible on smartphones and games consoles and boasts millions of players of all ages.
According to a recent study, the game has been cited in over 200 divorce petitions in the UK since January 2018. These numbers equate to approximately 5% of the 4,665 divorce petitions that have been filed so far this year.
So what is the petitioner complaining of? We expect that the petitioner is complaining that the game is resulting in lack of attention from their spouse because their spouse is prioritising a hobby over the petitioner. For divorce purposes, this type of behaviour can amount to unreasonable behaviour.
Unreasonable behaviour is one of the five facts a petitioner can rely on to prove their marriage has broken down irretrievably.
Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage is the only ground for divorce in the UK and must be established to start divorce proceedings. To start divorce proceedings, one party must file a divorce petition setting out their reasons for wanting a divorce.
The other facts which a petitioner can rely on are adultery, desertion, 2-year separation with consent and 5-year separation.
Examples of other types of behaviour that may amount to unreasonable behaviour are verbal or physical abuse, failure to provide emotional support, failure to provide financial support or financial recklessness, failure to help around the home or to assist with childcare, drinking to excess or taking drugs, improper association with others and prioritising relationships with others.
To establish unreasonable behaviour, the petitioner must prove that their spouse has behaved in such a way that they cannot reasonably be expected to live with them.
Once this is established, a presumption of irretrievable breakdown is raised. In an undefended case, the court accepts the statement made in the petition that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.
Unreasonable behaviour and adultery are the only two facts that entitle the petitioner to start divorce proceedings immediately (provided that the parties have been married at least one year). This means that in most cases couples who wish to divorce rely on unreasonable behaviour to prove that their marriage has irretrievably broken down. This requires the petitioner to place the blame on their spouse. However, in some instances parties have come to a mutual agreement to divorce and feel uncomfortable placing blame on their spouse in order for their divorce to be recognised by the Courts but are left with no choice if they do not want to wait two years.
Here at Consilia legal we have been campaigning to change the current law on divorce. We are pleased to announce that Justice Secretary, David Gauke has now announced plans to introduce the ‘no fault’ divorce and this will remove the need for couples to allege ‘fault’ at the start of the divorce within their divorce petition if they do not feel that it is necessary.