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Legal Grounds for Divorce

What are Legal Grounds for Divorce?


Updated April 17, 2014

If you are thinking about filing for a divorce, you may be of the opinion that you need “grounds” for the divorce or a reason. Modern divorce laws or “no-fault” divorce laws have done away with the need for divorce grounds in most states.

Each state has divorce laws that outline the legal conditions that are grounds for divorce. There must be a reason for ending a marriage and in most states that reason may be as simple as “irreconcilable differences.” In other words one spouse may be of the opinion that the marriage has broken down is beyond saving. The other spouse has little or no say in whether or not there is a divorce.

Grounds for divorce is the legal reason for filing for divorce. Some people confuse grounds with fault. They fail to understand that under no-fault divorce laws the courts no longer concern themselves with who is at fault for the problems in the marriage.

The reasoning behind no-fault divorce laws is that it keeps emotions out of divorce court. The intention, I believe for no-fault divorce laws is so that divorce can move more swiftly through the family court system.

If you’ve been hurt by a spouse and want to use the Family Court System as retaliation or to protect your investment in the marriage you will be disappointed. Unless you live in one of the few states that still has fault divorce, your spouse’s behavior will not be used in determining if you get a divorce and what you get in the divorce settlement.

Below is a list of “divorce grounds” that are legally available in some states. Check your state’s divorce laws to find out what your legal options are.


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