Grounds for Divorce

Can One Spouse Get a Divorce Just Because They Are Tired of Being Married?

Each state has its own laws determining when and under what circumstances a divorce can be sought and granted. In some states both sides can agree to obtain a divorce with only a brief waiting period. Other states, however, have laws that claim to permit a divorce only if there are "grounds", meaning that the divorce is one spouse's "fault".

What is the Difference Between a "Fault" and a "No Fault" Divorce?

Some states allow termination of marital status on both a basis of fault and alternatively on the basis of no fault. Grounds for fault include adultery, physical or mental cruelty, desertion, alcohol or drug abuse, insanity, impotence or infecting the other spouse with a venereal disease. The respective rights to distribution of property and spousal support can be affected by a spouse's fault in causing the breakdown of the marriage in some states.

In a no fault dissolution of marriage, a declaration by one spouse of the marriage that irreconcilable differences have arisen that neither time nor counseling will cure is sufficient grounds for a court to terminate the marriage and return the former spouses to the legal status of unmarried (single) persons. In a no fault divorce or dissolution of marriage, the actions of the respective spouses in the breakdown of the marriage does not affect property distribution or spousal support rights.

What is a "Fault" Divorce?

A "fault" divorce is one in which one party blames the other for the failure of the marriage by citing wrongdoing. Grounds for fault can include adultery, physical or mental cruelty, desertion, alcohol or drug abuse, insanity, impotence or infecting the other spouse with a venereal disease.

I Live in a State That Makes it Hard to Get a Divorce, By Requiring Serious Fault. What Can I Do?

Under many circumstances it would be possible to change your residence to a different state that has no-fault divorce, or has more liberal grounds, and file for divorce in that state. Under the United States Constitution, a court decree in one state must be honored in all other states. However, to avoid problems, this should never be attempted without the advice of an attorney.

Will the Division of Property and Potential Spousal Support Be Affected By Whether or Not I Obtain a Fault or No Fault Divorce?

That depends on the state. In some states the court can consider the spouses' faults in deciding how to distribute property and provide spousal support. In a no fault divorce situation, the actions of the respective spouses in the breakdown of the marriage do not affect property distribution or spousal support rights. Again, an attorney is vital to represent your best interests in the division of property in the dissolution of a marriage.

Can You Raise a Defense Against Fault Grounds?

Yes, fault grounds can be contested. The party bringing the action, the one making the allegation, must prove the truth of the allegation. The other spouse can rebut that allegation as in any other legal trial.

What Happens When Both Parties are At-Fault in a Divorce?

If the fault grounds are of equal grounds, such as cruelty and desertion, the divorce may be denied. They may have to resort to a no-fault round after the requisite period of time. If the grounds are unequal, such as adultery and desertion, the party with the higher ground, adultery may prevail on the divorce.

Grounds for Divorce in Neighboring States

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