The fifth and final fact which can be used to prove that the marriage has irretrievably broken down is 5 years separation. This means that the parties must have lived separately and apart for more than 5 years.
This can be done without the consent of the other party and this is where it differs from 2 years separation which requires the other party’s consent.
It is fairly unusual to use this reason as it is less likely that people will simply stay separated for this length of time without formally ending the marriage. Often it is the case that one or other party has met someone else and wishes to remarry and would then apply using another reason at an earlier date.
It is not possible for the other party to formally defend a divorce on this basis but it is possible for them to prevent the final Decree being granted so that the Court can deal with financial settlement and the reason that must be given is that there will be financial or other hardship if a decree is granted.
This won’t mean that the final Decree is never granted but simply that either party must then apply to the Court to have financial matters resolved, unless an agreement is reached between them.