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Common Grounds for Divorce

If you’re considering a divorce, there are a lot of aspects to consider, from dividing assets to outlining custody arrangements. It can be easy to get overwhelmed with all the things you need to evaluate. That’s why it’s important to simplify the process as much as possible and take it one step at time.

One of the first things you should determine when you’re considering a divorce is whether you need to state grounds for divorce. Some states require a reason and some are “no-fault” and do not require a reason. Some states have both options.

The grounds for divorce are the legal reason you are presenting to the court for why you are seeking a divorce, and why the court should grant you one. Acceptable grounds for divorce and who they apply to will vary by jurisdiction.

When You Need to State Grounds for Divorce

Grounds for divorce are typically required when you file for a “fault divorce.” In fault divorce, you are citing your spouse’s specific actions as creating reason for the divorce. Adultery, for example, is one of the most commonly cited grounds for divorce.

Some states no longer require a reason to be stated to file for divorce, but in some of the ones that do, proving your spouse’s fault can lead to greater asset awards, custody preferences, and other favorable outcomes. Fault divorces are also less likely to have restrictions placed on them before filing, such as a required separation period from your spouse.

If you file for a fault divorce, you’ll need to prove to the court why your spouse is at fault, and that they did commit the actions you’re claiming they did.

States that allow fault divorces will typically consider the following as some of the acceptable grounds for divorce:

  • Adultery. If your spouse has been unfaithful, you can cite their infidelity as a ground for divorce.
  • Abandonment. If your spouse has physically left you and your home, typically for at least one year without valid reason or intent to return, the desertion could be a ground for divorce.
  • Incarceration. If your spouse is convicted of a crime and incarcerated as a result, you may be able to cite that as a basis for your filing.
  • Domestic violence. If your spouse has been physically, sexually, or mentally abusive to you or your children, this may form a basis for filing for divorce. In most states, the abuse can be either long-term or a specific instance.
  • Mental illness. You may have grounds for divorce if your spouse is suffering from certain mental illnesses. Typically in these cases, the illness must be incurable and present for a specified length of time, depending on the jurisdiction you’re filing in.
  • Substance abuse. If your spouse has a drug or alcohol problem, their addiction could be grounds for a fault-based divorce. In some states, you may need to prove the addiction started after you were married, or may need to show the addiction has lasted for a specific period of time.

When you file for a fault divorce, you should expect your spouse to contest the grounds you’re stating, including presenting their own evidence in their defense, or possibly citing some of your actions as the grounds for divorce.

When You Don’t Need to State Grounds For Divorce

Not every divorce will require you to state grounds for divorce. “No-fault” divorces can be granted for any reason, and don’t require you to prove a specific fault from your spouse that led to the divorce, though you may be asked to list a specific no-fault reason when you file, such as the marriage being irretrievably broken.

No-fault divorces are typically harder for your spouse to contest, because there are no accusations and nothing to prove. If you want a divorce and your spouse doesn’t, many courts will see this as sufficient evidence of incompatibility.

In some states, you may be required to be separated from your spouse for a certain length of time before you file, typically ranging from a few months to a year.

Grounds for no-fault divorces typically take some form of irreconcilable differences. These grounds are very broad and may cover many reasons why your marriage is simply no longer viable. You’re essentially stating there are too many conflicts between you and your spouse that cannot be resolved. These often include disagreements about children, financial difficulties, or diverging lifestyles.

How to Decide What Grounds for Divorce You Should Claim

To determine whether or what grounds for divorce you should claim, you’ll need to first learn whether your state allows for fault divorce, or just no-fault divorce. If you have the option between the two, you’ll need to decide if you want to claim fault or not, and then, what kind of fault you’re allowed to try to prove in your area.

Getting a divorce can be an emotional and technically-complicated process. Hiring a divorce attorney can help you untangle those rules and procedures. The support of an attorney could make it easier to understand your rights and options when you file for a divorce, and can help you through the divorce proceedings to increase the odds of getting your desired outcomes.

Speak to an Experienced Divorce Attorney Today

This article is intended to be helpful and informative. But even common legal matters can become complex and stressful. A qualified divorce lawyer can address your particular legal needs, explain the law, and represent you in court. Take the first step now and contact an attorney in your area from our directory to discuss your specific legal situation.

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