Definition of Grounds For Divorce

Prior to the implementation and passage of no fault divorce laws couples who wished to divorce had to prove the other spouse was at-fault. Traditional grounds for divorce were very difficult to prove and generally included adultery, desertion or extreme cruelty.

During the last century all states accepted no fault divorce laws. In the 1970’s there was what has been termed a “divorce law revolution which allowed for legislative amendments or the repeal of divorce laws in 37 out of the 50 states.” By 2010, all states had enacted no fault divorce laws, although couples must still provide a ground for divorce in each state.

Although social scientists are not sure how no fault divorce laws have contributed to the breakdown of the family, statistically the divorce rate has climbed from 25% in the 1960’s to over 50% now. This is also with an increased proliferation of couples choosing not to marry at all.

Legal grounds for divorce continue to vary by state. No fault and at fault laws may also co-exist with each other. Common grounds for divorce include adultery, cruel and abusive treatment, desertion, long-term incarceration, confinement in a mental hospital, drug or alcohol addiction, deviant sexual conduct, impotency and an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. Talk to a divorce lawyer if you have questions about your divorce or what you will need to specify as grounds for divorce on your divorce petition.

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