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All 50 states in the United States now allow for “no fault” divorce, which means that specific grounds for divorce needn’t be established or proven. In no fault jurisdictions, the only recognized grounds for divorce that needs to be met is that the marriage is “irreconcilably broken.” It’s a standard that is easy to meet; the assertion that the marriage is broken down or isn’t working for one or both partners can serve as grounds for divorce in no-fault jurisdictions. States can still require that couples seek counseling first or observe a mandatory “cooling off” period, but after that, if you still want a divorce, you do not need to prove any grounds for the divorce. The issue still may come up in divorce court proceedings, however.

Proving grounds for divorce

However, not all of our readers are from the United States, and many places around the globe still require that grounds for divorce be established before granting a divorce. In such jurisdictions, grounds for divorce will need to be proven, and consent of the “innocent” or “blameless” spouse is also required to grant a divorce. In addition, some countries may not grant a divorce if it’s deemed that both spouses are “guilty.”

Although all 50 states in the U.S. allow no-fault divorces, many have not completely abandoned at-fault procedures in divorce. Documenting grounds for divorce may still be used in filing a fault divorce as a way to bypass the mandatory counseling or waiting period that many states require. Fault may also be considered in awarding alimony or dividing assets in a divorce. In a fault divorce, the party filing for the divorce (the petitioner) must present evidence that the other spouse’s actions breached the marital commitment, thus serving as grounds for divorce.

What qualifies as grounds for divorce?

Although the specific grounds for divorce will vary by jurisdiction, there are some common universal circumstances that tend to qualify:

Infidelity or adultery as grounds for divorce

Cheating on a spouse is grounds for divorce throughout the world. However, it may require the spouse’s admission of infidelity or other documentation that an affair actually took place.

Cruelty as grounds for divorce

Domestic violence, partner battery, verbal abuse, abuse of children; all these things can serve as grounds for divorce.

Personal problems as grounds for divorce

Drug abuse, alcoholism, mental instability or psychological problems; all of these personal problems qualify as grounds for divorce in most places.

Separation as grounds for divorce

If both parties have lived apart for at least two years (or as much as 5 years if the other spouse does not agree to the divorce) then this can serve as grounds for divorce.

Desertion as grounds for divorce

If one person walked out on the marriage or otherwise abandoned the relationship, this abandonment can be grounds for divorce. Some jurisdictions may require a specific time period of absence or continued unexplained absence before considering abandonment as grounds for divorce.

Disingenuity or lying as grounds for divorce

Lying about something upon entering the marriage – such as having had other children outside the marriage or misleading a spouse in some obvious way can be grounds for divorce, as can continued lying and dishonesty within the marriage. Depending on the circumstances, this might also qualify you for a marriage annulment.

Religious conversion as grounds for divorce

When a partner changes their religious affiliation in the middle of the marriage, some jurisdictions consider this grounds for divorce.

Disease or incapacity as grounds for divorce

If a partner has a chronic illness, has suffered a disabling accident, or is otherwise incapacitated, this can serve as grounds for divorce. In a few select highly conservative countries, even having a venereal disease can qualify.

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