What Are The Grounds For Divorce In The U.S.?

By Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Top Orange County divorce mediators; California divorce mediatorsDivorce is very common in the United States and has been categorized into two types mainly – no fault divorce and fault divorce. Each state has its own grounds of divorce depending on the type of divorce category the couple would fall into.

What is the meaning of grounds of divorce? 

Grounds for divorce are the legitimate reasons for which a couple decides to separate and end their marriage. Each state government in the US specifies different circumstances under which a divorce would be granted to a person or a married couple. The person wishing to file for a divorce will have to prove their reason or reasons for wanting a divorce at the divorce trial which will be a date set by the family court. Before granting the divorce the court will ask the couple to live apart for some time and see a marriage counselor to try and resolve their issues and save their marriage.

Grounds for divorce in the U.S. 

Grounds for divorce in the U.S. differ according to whether the divorce is classified as a fault or no-fault divorce. A no-fault divorce is one where neither party can be held accountable for the breakdown of the marriage and they want to separate mutually. A fault divorce is one where either one party acted with cruelty or ill-treated the other in which case the aggrieved party wants to file for a divorce.

Grounds for no-fault divorce 

The following are the reasonable grounds acceptable in a no-fault divorce state such as California–

  1. Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage – also known as irreconcilable differences, this is when the couple mutually agree that they do not wish to continue with the marriage due to major differences or incompatibilities between each other.
  1. Living separately – a couple that is already living separately can file for a divorce under no fault divorce.
  1. State acceptance – if, after hearing both parties, the state feels that it is better in the interest of both parties to get divorced it will grant the divorce accordingly.

Grounds for a “fault” divorce 

The following are the reasonable grounds acceptable in a “fault” divorce state–

  1. Adultery – when either party is guilty of being unfaithful or committing adultery the aggrieved or innocent party can file for a divorce. However, the party filing for a divorce must prove beyond doubt the adultery committed by the other party.
  1. Cruelty – mental, physical and emotional abuse inflicted by one party on the other must be proved by the hurt or aggrieved party. Any form of physical and verbal abuse, beating, affairs, torture, etc. would qualify as cruelty.
  1. Other grounds – abandonment or desertion, mental illness, criminal conviction, impotency, change of religion, impotency, infertility and change of sexuality are some other grounds for a fault divorce.

To learn more about the specifics about the divorce process in California and how mediation can help, please visit our page, What is Divorce Mediation