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    • March 28, 2020 12:51 PM GMT
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      This is what I do (AN EXTRACT)

      Alexandra Stone
      I am being petitioned by my wife for a divorce on the grounds that our marriage has broken down irretrievably now that I have revealed I am transgender.
      She does not wish to wait for the two years required for a no-fault divorce to be granted or the two years needed to have the marriage annulled through the GRC process. She has instead chosen to argue that our divorce should be granted on the basis of my 'unreasonable behaviour'; given that it would now be 'unreasonable' for her to be expected to remain married to me since she originally married a man, and that she is heterosexual and does not wish to be married to a woman, and also that since we separated I have 'behaved unreasonably' by living full-time as a woman.
      I am completely sympathetic to her position and recognise that our marriage is now over. I also realise that the breakdown of our marriage was completely down to me revealing to her that I was transsexual. However, is it right for the Courts to consider this revelation to my wife and also the wish to seek medical treatment in itself grounds for 'unreasonable behaviour'? Is being a transsexual seeking medical treatment, which is a protected characteristic of the Equalities Act (2010), a valid reason for a quicker 'fault-based' divorce to be granted; potentially making me liable to pay all costs?
      I have no real problem in divorcing quickly. I really want to cause the least amount of anguish as possible. However, I'm really offended that the revelation about my Gender Identity to my wife and also that I wanted to see my doctor about it can be considered 'unreasonable behaviour' and so used against me in the courts. It seems unfair that divorces can be fast-tracked through the court system on this basis, given that it would take at least two years to do if no fault could be proved. This appears to me as direct discrimination against transsexuals and unfair. I would be happier if divorce would be permitted on a no-fault basis once a partner has revealed their intention of changing gender.
      My Solicitor has advised me to submit a counter petition if I feel aggrieved about the grounds used for divorce. She thinks this would counter the origonal petition and allow the courts to grant the divorce anyway, and in most cases the costs are then paid seperately. But my solicitor has warned me that if my counter petition fails, then I may have to pay all the costs myself.
      I have spoken to many people about this. Most seem to say I should just agree to the petition and get the whole thing over with as quickly as possible, even though the whole thing seems unfair. There seems very little on the Internet about this, and it’s difficult for me to decide what to do. I can't be the only one this has happened to, can I?

      Lucy Diamond
      No you are not the only one, not by a long way! My very dear friend had this happen to her, and it wasn't pretty, having read some of the accusations made by the ex-wife. But that's how the courts work; it's often not pretty.
      On the one hand, "unreasonable behaviour" seems very harsh. On the other hand one can understand a woman not wanting to stick around; this isn't what she signed up for, though personally I just think that is small-minded. So the courts will likely take the view that your "behaviour" is unreasonable in the sense that it is not conducive to a regular, healthy marriage.
      However you are not at fault simply by being transgender, and if these particular grounds are considered an "at fault divorce" then it is indeed discrimination against transsexuals. We can't help the way we are, we are born like this, and if a husband were to suffer some freak accident or health problem that meant he could no longer fulfill his "marital duties", it wouldn't be considered unreasonable behaviour. In both cases, the husband can't help their circumstances.
      But the court could take the view that it was unreasonable to go ahead with the marriage without telling the future wife about your transgenderness. Although I'm sure there's no such word...
      Having seen the dismal way in which my friend was apparently regarded by the court, cast aside with disdain by her wife, restricted access to her children and eventually having them turn against her - I'd really like to see someone challenge these grounds for divorce in court. It could be a landmark case, but I have little confidence at this time that such a challenge would be succesful; one would need a very good solicitor au fait with TG issues and rights, and money with which to gamble.
      If it was me I'd just want it over quickly and wouldn't fight it. Whilst ashamed of my own cowardness, I also know there is a lot for a newly out TG to be getting on with. So perhaps your energies could be better spent elsewhere, rather than fighting your wife and the system in general.
      But good luck with whatever you do, this is bound to be a difficult time and I really feel for you.

      Cristine J.Shye
      As one of the reasons for divorce in UK divorce law unreasonable behaviour is by far the most common. The main reason for this is that it allows quick divorce. Three of the other grounds involve delays of between 2 and 5 years and the other, adultery, may not apply in every case. Divorce advice for men does often involve explaining that you do not need wait for your wife to issue a divorce petition. Almost all spouses can in practice rely upon unreasonable behaviour as a ground for divorce.
      Do bear in mind that divorce is private. Details of unreasonable behaviour in an undefended divorce petition are not divulged to the general public and so no-one but the parties themselves need ever know what was in the petition. Divorce proceedings and the divorce reasons are private. Indeed, it is quite common for the Respondent (the person who receives the petition as opposed to the person who issues it) to agree not to defend the divorce on condition that no use is made of the lack of defence to allegations of unreasonable behaviour in any other proceedings (such, for instance, as those relating to children or the matrimonial property).
      The Respondent might also want to make it a condition of not defending that there is some agreement as to who bears the cost or the division of costs.
      Very often clients ask what constitutes "unreasonable behaviour". Obviously, it covers extreme types of behaviour such as habitual drunkenness or violence but it is by no means necessary to allege anything near as serious in a divorce petition. In fact, because no-one likes receiving a petition based on their unreasonable behaviour, it is very often sensible to keep the allegations to the bare minimum that will suffice to obtain the divorce even in circumstances where very much more could be added. A few paragraphs are normally sufficient and in a case where a marriage has in fact irretrievably broken down it is unusual not to be able to find some instances of unreasonable behaviour which will suffice for the purposes of obtaining decree nisi. It is important to understand that the courts are not too demanding about this - particularly where both spouses want a divorce.
      Naturally, if the parties are not agreed on divorce the requirements of the courts are stricter because the allegations will be subject to scrutiny but in the overwhelming majority of cases the allegations are unchallenged because very few divorces are ever defended in fact.
      People often think they can get a divorce based simply upon "irreconcilable differences". The truth of the matter is that this usually means "unreasonable behaviour" and in order to obtain a divorce on the ground of unreasonable behaviour one has to comply with the rules applicable to that particular ground including any time limits.
      Examples of unreasonable behaviour given to lawyers with successful outcomes for divorce include:
      A husband hiding a tape recorder in the bedroom and his wife’s handbag to record her conversations
      Irresponsibility with money
      An unsociable husband making his wife feel guilty when she wanted to go out with her friends
      A cross dressing husband after he decided to have a sex change
      Withdrawing all of the family savings (£40,000) from the bank and burning it in the bedroom
      A husband who was so work obsessed that he filled the bedroom with so many files that his wife couldn’t get into the room
      Divorce in England & Wales is based on a marriage having "broken down irretrievably ". But there is a complication. This breakdown must be proved by evidencing only one of five "facts" laid down by the law. They are Adultery, Unreasonable Behaviour, Desertion, Two years’ separation with consent and **Five years’ separation without consent. (if the wife/spouse becomes embittered) if she withdraws her own petition**

      Alexandra Stone
      Thank you so much for your reply. I've been thinking about this for months now, and you've pretty much summed up everything that I been!
      After a LOT of thought, I've decided to contest the divorce, if only so that I can have my say. I think this would upset me for the rest of my life if I didn't stand up for myself on this issue. As the Law stands, there is no shortcut to divorce on the grounds of being transgender. I think if there was, and given how much I love my wife, how much she and our family are hurting, and also how important this is for her to have the marriage recognised to have broken down irretrievably in Law, I would readily agree to a quick divorce on those grounds; and perhaps the English Marriage Laws need to be updated to reflect this. But unfortunately, there are no such grounds, and it just feels unreasonable in itself and actually a very Lazy way out to accept that by seeking medical help and revealing that I am transexual to my family and friends that this could in itself be construed by the courts as demonstrating 'unreasonable behaviour'.
      I think I just want to be treated fairly under the law and for the law to protect me if necessessary as I transition.
      After some searching (and a trip to Sparkle!) I found a Solicitor who has an interest in LGBT issues and Family Law. Her Name is Beveley Jones and she is a partner of dwf Solicitors in Liverpool ( 0151 907 3372) and has agreed to act on my behalf (Once I started asking my previous high street solicitor about issues around Equality Law, she quickly recommeded that I find someone else).
      My main problem I think is of course financial. Fundementally I would like the divorce to ended on a no-fault basis, and not on the grounds of my unreasonable behaviour. If this outcome is not possible then I would be prepared to take the matter further. I can just about afford to pay Solicitors to help prepare my legal documents and provide me with initial advice. But when it goes to court I will have to represent myself. If it goes any further I would not have the funds to pay for specialist advice around Equalities Law and cannot afford a Barrister. I have thought about joining my local university library and having a look into applicable case law etc, but I think what I really need to do is to find is an academic who has an interest in Equality and Family Law who could point me in the right direction.
      I have contacted Stonewall, who have just started to become interested in Gender Identity issues, but so far had no reply, although I get the feeling that they themselves feel very inexperienced in this area, but may be looking at possible campaigning issues for the future.Beaumont are brill, but any questions are passed onto their region (volunteer reps). I already know my regional rep very well through the Machester Concord (Rach is lovely:), but as a volunteer her knowledge on this area is understandably very limited.Any other suggestions would be gratefully recieved, and thanks again!

      Cristine J.Shye
      What you could do, if your wife is ameniable, is enter into a collaborative engagement procedure, you both sit down with your solicitors and discuss the innapropriate unreasonable behaviour aspect presentation, you both agree a format to be adhered to, that will under advice, be acceptable to a ruling judge, to grant a divorce. sharing costs and avoiding protracted arguments and soaring litigation costs.
      Despite the apparent fault based divorce process, the approach of collaborative law enables a divorcing couple to meet their goal and achieve an amicable divorce.Regarding trans issues and marriage and subsequent divorce, I think in future with more self awareness and education, we will see less of these sad incidents, with the ''If I ignore it, it will go away syndrome'
      Thinking of a counter argument, medical conditions should not be considered as unreasonable behavour but rather"irreconcilable differences" I think a precedent was set with a diganosis of bi-polar.which could be submitted at a collaborative engagement procedure, you would realy need a more experienced divorce/ family matters solicitor to give a view on that aspect, divorce is not my specialist subject, barristers are very expensive if it was refered to the crown court, for a legal ruling.. It also depends on a Judges view of what the petitioner regards as unreasonable behaviour.
      This has got me going, been up half the night buried in books, making phone calls, firstly I am advised I cannot give you direction, divorce not being my forte, and a one master loyalty clause in my contract. What I have stated so far is a matter of record. If you send me an IM with you email address I will give you my contact details, your solicitor, or the solicitor you mentioned can contact me, I can give details of medical conditions both inherited and genetic that can cause a person to be transgendered, I was born with such a condition and have done vast amounts of research, in law, the GRA you do not have to demonstrate you suffer any of these conditions only that such causes exist as a maybe, that your behavour to you is natural and not unreasonable. Direction is for your solicitor to advise you on if this would be a viable course of action. perhaps setting a legal precedent.
      Alexandra Stone
      I've recieved and acknowleged my wife's divorce petition, indicating that I wish to defend her petition on the grounds that I don't think it's reasonable for a divorce to be granted on a fault-basis (i.e. quicker) simply because I am transexual and seeking medical treatment.
      After a lot of thought, I have decided to post my wifes Statement of Case, my answer to this petition and my cross petiton on this forumhere, so that others within the transgender community can consider my arguments and (hopefully?) offer me some support. Obviously I feel quite alone, very saddened by the whole thing and a bit vulnerable at the moment. I would appreciate your thoughts on whether you think my petition and answer can be improved, or whether you think what I am doing is right or a waste of time and money. For the time being, I feel that although the end result will be the same - that the courts will agree to the divorce, at least I feel slightly more in control of my divorce, and that I have had a right of reply. I don't think I could live with myself if I didn't, and for me, I think this is a very important part of my personal transition. Here goes.....

      Cristine J.Shye
      Big mistake, a counter petition in my considered opinion. (returning to case law and examples of unreasonable behaviour) Her petition would be considered reasonable, she mairried you, a male, the fact she cannot continue to support your relationship in a lesbian contex is understandable.
      Gender dysphoria is a recognised medical condition, in the opinion of eminent therapists and specialist researchers, there is no cure, the urgess are uncontrollable, aversion therapy has been proved to be a failure in the past, so a medical condition should not be labled unreasonable behaviour, is it a volountary aspect of behaviour? who can say which individual can control this aspect of their behavour, perhaps some control it for a number of years, suffering in silence and ignorance, unhappy, finally having to succumb to the urges to be normal per se, inner happiness is a right under the human rights act. being deemed in a divorce as being a person of unreasonable behaviour, is in my opinion being classed as found guilty of the allegations put forward against a person, of course in law in this country there is no actual decision based on ireconsilable differences in divorce as mentioned above in the basic rules of five. That's why we need a precedent, case law, if not apealed would be an ammendment to the marriage act and the GRA.if you push for the collaborative engagement, with with a no fault basis. There is already an ammendment that by mutual consent an existing marriage can now be converted in the records as a same sex marriage, doing away with the temporary GRC and annulment. But a spouses veto was introduced,allowing the plaintif/petitioner to object to an anulment during the tempory GRC when the parties do not whish to remain together, forcing a divorce. in that case the petitioner then becomes the respondant. It's is my opinion that this contravenes article 10 of the EHRC the power of one human rights over another and against UK equlities act, so in the case of transgendered people, there should be a mutal annulment procedure based on incompatabilty, as soon as both parties request it. on a no fault basis.
      BUT there is the option of Matter of first impression
      First impression (known as primae impressionis in Latin) is a legal case in which there is no binding authority on the matter presented. Such a case can set forth a completely original issue of law for decision by the courts, which will then set a precedent for similar cases if a judge so rules..
      Ratio decidendi (Latin plural rationes decidendi) is a Latin phrase meaning "the reason" or "the rationale for the decision". The ratio decidendi is "the point in a case that determines the judgment" or "the principle that the case establishes"
      In other words, ratio decidendi is a legal rule derived from, and consistent with, those parts of legal reasoning within a judgment on which the outcome of the case depends.
      Rule of Inference. Base conclusions on what is already known and proven or can be reasonably implied from all known facts.
      Do not forget that annulment on recieving your temporary GRC is not automatic, a spouse has the power of veto as explained above, an embittered spouse can insist that the issue proceeds to divorce. an ammendment to the marriage act regarding transexuals 2013 regarding the issue of a full GRC.

      Lucy Diamond
      Cristine is hugely more expert than me in these sort of matters, but I think I'm thinking the same thing. Your wife's defence of your cross-petition does not read well, and no, I do not think they necessarily cancel each other out, but without seeing your cross petition in the first place, it's hard to give a balanced opinion.
      Cris is right though in her last sentance, and it looks to me like any attempt to defend the accusation that you have behaved unreasonably by claiming that it was your wife who has behaved unreasonably is doomed to failure. From the court's point of view: your wife files a divorce because you announced you wish to be a woman from now on, and you claim that she is being unreasonable about it? Your best bet in that scenario would be to hope for a TS judge who might rule in your favour!
      What I think you really want though, is not to apportion blame upon your wife (as her defence suggests you have done), but to show that neither party was to blame. The traditional divorce court is probably not equipped to deal with what could basically amount to a change in the law; and this may be the only way to adequately defend your case, which I do think is sound if approached in the right way. But as I said, your wife's defence to your cross petition does not read well, I can't see a regular divorce court deciding in your favour, or even ruling an "equal blame" situation.
      I'm no expert, but I've been to court and it's not pretty. Did you suggest your wife was partly to blame in your cross petition? I think this is the crux of the matter. She wasn't to blame, and neither were you, but it appears she is now defending herself against your accusations that it was partly her fault. She'll probably win that argument in a regular divorce court.

      [size= 14pt][b][i][color=#0000ff]Cristine Jennifer Shye BL, B/Acc, (SB)embarassed[/color][/i][/b][/size]

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