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What Are the Grounds For Divorce?

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By Liz B. Gatsby
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Divorce can be an emotional and complex process. One of the key decisions is how to divide up assets. There may be various causes for divorce such as adultery, cruelty or abandonment which should all be taken into consideration before seeking to divide.

To establish utter desertion, evidence such as private investigator reports or admissions from your spouse must show they have left you without any intention to come back.

Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage

Couples often decide to end their marriage when there is no hope of reconciliation left; when this occurs, they can file for no-fault divorce by citing irreconcilable differences as grounds.

Divorce can also be pursued when one spouse engages in adultery without consent from the other partner; domestic violence and extreme cruelty may also constitute grounds for separation if they occur repeatedly or as part of a specific incident.

Other fault-based reasons for divorce may include desertion and incarceration. To use either as grounds, one spouse must show that their partner physically left them and hasn’t returned after an agreed upon period, or they must prove the other committed a crime and is currently behind bars. These two grounds tend to be less frequently used but still prove hard when trying to obtain certain financial arrangements such as alimony or equitable distribution of assets in a divorce settlement agreement.

Cruel and inhuman treatment

Laws passed recently to permit “no fault divorce” due to irreconcilable differences have greatly simplified the divorce process for couples seeking one on fault grounds; however, cruel or inhuman treatment remains one of the primary grounds. For abuse to qualify as grounds for divorce proceedings it must be extreme and longstanding in order to qualify as such a claim.

Abuse can take many forms: physical, emotional and sexual abuse can all contribute to a decision to divorce; violence threatening or actual; repeated use of abusive language; constant nagging and fussing or failing to maintain basic hygiene are just a few examples of abuse that must occur more than once before it constitutes cruel and inhuman treatment and lead to its conclusion.

Note that any abuse was considered by the Chancellor when making decisions regarding alimony and property division, so this can be a difficult point of contention to prove.

Adultery

Infidelity is often cited as the basis for divorce. Engaging in sexual relations outside of one’s marriage (known as adultery ) constitutes grounds for separation and may affect alimony payments or property division.

Domestic violence is another reason cited for seeking divorce by spouses, including verbal, emotional and physical abuse as well as stalking, kidnapping and extortion.

Poor premarital preparation can leave couples struggling with the daily challenges of marriage, such as money management, communication skills and setting future goals together.

Couples pursuing divorce on this basis must enter into a separation agreement and live apart for at least one year prior to filing their petition for divorce. While this type of no-fault ground does not impact property or spousal support, it does impact custody arrangements.

Abandonment

In states that allow fault-based divorces, any spouse who abandons his or her family without giving any reason or intent of returning may be grounds for divorce proceedings. While specific reasons vary by state, abandonment can include physical separation, refusing financial support or even imprisonment as grounds.

Judges reviewing cases could consider this fact when making decisions about alimony and property settlements as well as child custody arrangements.

After 2007, many states now permit couples to file for divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences – essentially a no-fault ground – instead of domestic violence or abuse, adultery or abandoning financial support to the family as being sufficient grounds. Depending on these factors, court rulings could impact custody and alimony decisions that will have lasting ramifications, so it’s crucial that you understand all options before selecting the path forward.

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