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About Divorce

Grounds For Divorce

Some states will allow a divorce after a short waiting period, with a simple agreement by both parties to end the marriage, or a statement by the parties that they have “irreconcilable differences.” Other states require a reason or have specific acceptable grounds for divorce. While the rules will vary from state to state, and in some states it is very difficult to establish a no-fault divorce, there are some basic elements that constitute grounds for both fault and no-fault divorce.
In a fault divorce one party blames the other for the failure of the marriage. Grounds for a fault divorce can include:

  • Infidelity
  • Physical or mental abuse or cruelty
  • Impotence
  • Venereal disease
  • Mental illness
  • Desertion or abandonment
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Lengthy imprisonment

Simply claiming grounds for divorce will not be enough. The other party can fight it, and you will be required to prove fault. Distribution of property and assets can be affected by fault, in some states.

Desertion and Abandonment
When a spouse simply leaves and never comes back, the abandoned spouse can file for divorce. The length of time of abandonment necessary to constitute grounds for divorce varies and is typically from one to three years. Some states will require proof that the party requesting divorce has made requests or attempts to continue the relationship. Cases of abandonment can become complicated if the spouse who is accused of abandonment can prove that the other spouse provoked the abandonment.

A legal separation for a designated period of time, typically ranging from six months to three years, can constitute grounds for divorce in many states. Separation can be grounds for a no-fault divorce.

When Both Parties Are At Fault
When both parties are at fault, a decision is made based on which party is more severely at fault. The party least at fault will be granted the divorce. If both parties are equally at fault the divorce may not be granted, or it may be granted as a no-fault divorce after a waiting period.

Defenses Against Fault
In a fault divorce the accused party may admit to the act used as grounds for fault while still claiming that they are not at fault. Common defenses against fault include:

  • Condonation – the spouse approved of the behavior when it occurred and is are now claiming that behavior as fault. Such as claiming adultery in a marriage where infidelity was accepted and allowed by the party now seeking divorce.
  • Connivance – the spouse intentionally sets up a situation to create a condition claimed as fault, similar to condonation, but more deceptive. For instance, rather than condoning adultery, the spouse claiming adultery as the reason for seeking divorce, secretly arranged extra-marital sexual encounters for the accused party with the intent of using the encounter as grounds for divorce.
  • Provocation – if the accusing spouse’s behavior was sufficient to cause the action they are now claiming as fault; often a defense for abandonment.
  • Collusion – in couples who agree to lie about fault in order to avoid a waiting period, a spouse may admit the deception to the court as a defense against the falsified fault.

If you are considering a divorce, please contact a matrimonial law attorney today.

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Disclaimer: Information contained throughout The Divorce Lawyer Directory is intended to generally inform you about divorce law and introduce you to divorce lawyers throughout the U.S. The information regarding divorce and divorce law is not meant to be taken as legal advice. If you like to speak with an experienced divorce attorney, click on the link to your state to find an experienced divorce lawyer in your area for an initial consultation.
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