for divorce
1. the reason for the legal dissolution of a marriage by a court or other competent body.
1. reason to legally dissolve one’s marriage with (someone).


In order to get a divorce, you must have a reason to divorce!

what are the grounds for divorce?

The grounds for divorce vary from state to state! Here are some common ones:

  • Irretrievable Breakdown: The relationship of a husband and wife has broken down irretrievably. Many jurisdictions require there to be some time before you can file. In New York State, to file under this ground, the relationship has to have been broken down irretrievably for at least six months. This is sometimes referred to as NO FAULT DIVORCE.
  • Cruel and inhuman treatment: Your spouse has been cruel and inhuman in his or her treatment of you. You can not use this ground if it was you who was cruel and inhuman. Many jurisdictions want the acts alleged to be pretty recent and in most cases, in the last couple of years.
  • Abandonment: When your spouse leaves you or abandons you. Many jurisdictions require a minimum amount of time for abandonment. In New York, it has to be at least a year. If you were the one who left, you can not use this ground.  
  • Separation Agreement: This ground confuses many people. It is to some extent like an uncontested divorce. You and your spouse enter into an agreement to separate. The agreement states what you are going to do, who gets what, and how things will go. In many jurisdictions, you must file that agreement with the Court. Then, after being separated and living apart for a certain period of time which varies based upon the State you are getting divorced in, you can apply to the Court for a divorce.
  • Adultery: If your spouse cheats on you, this may be a ground for divorce. If you cheat on your spouse, you can not use your cheating to substantiate this ground. If you sleep with your spouse after the adultery has been discovered, you may not be able to use this ground and many courts will say you have reaffirmed the marriage. You also can not wait years after the discovery of the cheating acts to file.  Adultery must also be proven. You have to get a witness to prove the adultery took place. It is a very difficult ground to prove. This is often why people hire private investigators to follow their spouses around. Televisions shows based upon the premise that people need proof of adultery have been widely popular around the globe. If someone didn’t see the feat, for purposes of divorce, your spouse didn’t cheat.
  • Imprisonment: If your husband or wife is imprisoned for a certain amount of time during the marriage, this may be a ground for divorce. In New York, your spouse must be imprisoned for three or more years. Many jurisdictions want the imprisonment to be pretty recent rather than waiting to file. In New York for instance, if it has been more than five years since your spouse was released from prison, you may not be able to use this ground.
  • No Fault: In many jurisdictions, there is a ground that allows parties to get divorced without having to place fault on a particular party.  This is usually called a No Fault Ground. Often No Fault grounds center around the breakdown of the marriage and require a certain amount of time to have elapsed, but do not center on the fault of any particular party. Such no fault grounds are important as they help lower barriers to getting a divorce. In many States, it has been very difficult historically to obtain a divorce. No Fault grounds help to provide the remedy of divorce to people who might have otherwise had problems proving the things that would allow for divorce, such as adultery.

If one person does not want to get a divorce, that person is contesting the grounds for divorce and the divorce is a contested divorce!

Alienation of affection is a cause of action against a third party brought by a spouse who has been deserted. The crux of an alienation of affection suit is that the third party is responsible for the failure of the marriage. This cause of action has been abolished in many jurisdictions. North Carolina is a jurisdiction where these suits are still used.


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