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What Are The Legal Grounds For Divorce

Aug 18, 2007
There are two different categories for legal grounds for divorce: "Fault" and "No Fault".

What is "No Fault" divorce?

"No Fault" divorce is when the spouse suing for divorce does not have to prove that his or her spouse did something wrong. Every state recognizes the legal grounds for divorce regardless of who is at fault.

To get a No Fault divorce, the suing spouse just simply states a reason recognized by that state. In most cases, it's enough to say that the couple cannot get along, (these go by the names "incompatibility," or "irreconcilable differences").

In many instances however, the couple must live apart for a period of months or even years in order to get a No Fault divorce. One spouse cannot stop a No Fault divorce. Objecting to a spouse's request for divorce is itself an irreconcilable difference that would justify the divorce. There is a 60 day waiting period before the court grants a divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences.

It is important to do some research for the state you live in since a No Fault divorce is the only option allowed by a number of states. The other states recognize both a No Fault divorce or a Fault divorce.

What is "Fault" divorce?

Fault divorce is a divorce granted on one of the following:

* cruelty (inflicting emotional or physical pain) - this is the most frequently used grounds for legal divorce
* adultery
* desertion for a specified period of time
* being confined in prison for a set number of years, and
* physically unable to engage in sexual intercourse, if it was not disclosed before marriage.

Some people choose a Fault divorce because they don't want to wait out the period of separation required by their state's law for a No Fault divorce. Also in some states, a spouse who proves the other spouse is at fault may receive a greater share of the marital property or more alimony.

Since the legal grounds for divorce vary from state to state, choose the grounds that applies to your situation and is legal in your state. Use the guidelines below to do your research.

1) Each state has different laws about divorce. Check the laws of your state yourself or talk to an attorney to define what the legal grounds for divorce are in your state.

2) Some states allow divorce based simply on irreconcilable differences. You don't have to give any reason other than that.

3) Realize that in some states it is more (or less) difficult to obtain a divorce.

4) Abandonment by your spouse is legal grounds for divorce in some states. There is usually a time requirement before you can file for divorce.

5) You should give consideration on the way your spouse treats you. Many states allow divorce if there is cruel or inhuman treatment.

6) Legal separation is also grounds for a divorce. Many states have a requirement that you must be legally separated for a specified period of time before you can divorce using separation as a reason

7) Serious consideration should be given when using adultery as legal grounds for divorce. Adultery occurs when one spouse has sexual intercourse with someone else during the marriage. Most states require a lot of proof if using adultery as grounds. This can often be very unpleasant and confrontational.

The information provided is by no means a complete compendium of the legal grounds for divorce, rather a basic framework to begin your research. If both partners are in agreement a divorce can be a simple procedure. If not in agreement, it can become a time consuming, tedious, and expensive procedure. Knowing your rights can help alleviate some of this confusion and expense.
About the Author
Emotional and Spiritual Growth Following Divorce is Possible for Every Member of Your Family. Discover How to Heal Your Heart and Protect Your Loved Ones. Visit
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