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What Are The Most Common Grounds For Filing A Divorce



In some U.S. states, there are at least 11 grounds available for filing divorce. At the other end of the spectrum, all 50 states now recognize the no-fault divorce, which requires no specified grounds or particulars of divorcing spouses. Consequently, the no-fault divorce is one of the cheapest, easiest and quickest forms of divorce. Incidentally, some states offer only the no-fault divorce (even if couples wanted to sling blame).

Most Common Grounds For Divorce

The following list comprises the most common grounds for filing for a divorce in the United States:

  • Irreconcilable differences - This is synonymous with a no-fault divorce. Couples need not demonstrate any form of misconduct in the marriage to file for divorce. The only decision that needs to be made and agreed upon is to end the marriage. Some jurisdictions call it an irretrievable breakdown of marriage.
  • Separation - Lengthy separation is also a common ground for divorces. Each state has its own requisite time period for separation. Time periods can range from six and 12 months on the lower end to 18 and 36 months on the higher end. Couples must demonstrate that they have not had a physical relationship during that period and they have not cohabitated.
  • Abandonment - This ground is similar to separation. In some jurisdictions, it is called willful desertion. The couple must establish that they have not lived together as a married couple and cohabitated in a long time.
  • Cruelty - This ground is often cited, and it encompasses a vast array of issues that can lead to the dissolution of a marriage. Cruelty can involve verbal and/or physical abuse, neglect of emotional needs, neglect of physical needs, alienation and the like. The ground of cruelty is broad, in that anything that hurts a person can technically constitute cruelty. Some jurisdictions call it cruel and inhuman treatment, instead. This ground for divorce is often cited along with adultery.
  • Adultery - This ground of divorce is common. Adultery can be difficult to establish. The allegation(s) are usually hotly contested and defended. In many states, alimony or spousal support is not awarded to spouses who desert the marriage and commit adultery. The evidence required to establish adultery must be convincing because of the high stakes of potentially costing a spouse his/her support and maintenance. Adultery is defined in many jurisdictions as sexual activity with any party other than a person's spouse. In some localities, sexual intercourse must actually occur, but in others, there is no such literal requirement. This ground for divorce is often cited along with cruelty. Because the proof required to establish adultery is so significant, parties buffer themselves by having a second ground for divorce upon which to fall back on, should the adultery ground fail.