Grounds for Divorce/Dissolution





Grounds for Divorce/Dissolution in the U.S. Copyright HG.org

Legal Grounds for Divorce/Dissolution

Grounds for divorce/dissolution are legal reasons for termination of a marriage.

No-fault Divorce

A no-fault divorce is one in which neither person blames the other for the breakdown of the marriage. There is no requirement to prove guilt of either party. Common no-fault grounds are irreconcilable differences, irretrievable marriage breakdown, irremediable breakdown of the marriage, or incompatibility of temperament.

These terms indicate that the marriage is over, but no blame is assigned to either spouse. All states have some form of no-fault divorce. But in many states, the couple must live apart for a certain timeframe to obtain one.

Fault-based Divorce

In a fault-based divorce, misconduct by one of the spouses is alleged as the legal basis for divorce/dissolution. Most states still allow couples to obtain a fault-based divorce. Many of the grounds are the same from state to state, such as adultery, some type of cruelty, physical or mental incapacitation, abandonment, and imprisonment.

In a fault-based divorce, the courts require proof of the alleged grounds. If the misconduct cannot be proven or the accused spouse fights or raises a defense to the claim, the divorce can still ultimately be granted on no-fault grounds, since all states offer this option.

Fault-based divorces can often be obtained more quickly than no-fault divorces. And some states take a spouse’s misconduct into account when making decisions about property division and the award of spousal support.

Comparative Rectitude or Least-fault Divorce

When both spouses allege legal fault-based grounds in a divorce action, under a doctrine called comparative rectitude, a court may award the divorce to the spouse whose fault is less serious. These types of divorces are rarely granted, however, since no-fault divorce is far more common.

Grounds for Divorce/Dissolution by State

Grounds for Divorce/Dissolution may vary from state to state. The following links provide general overviews of individual states' divorce grounds.


Individual State Grounds for Divorce/Dissolution

Divorce Articles

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  • Potential Child Custody Issues for Unmarried Fathers
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