Grounds for Divorce Law & Legal Definition

The Grounds for divorce are set regulations in each state that specify under what circumstances can one party be granted a divorce. In other words it is the legal reason or reasons for which a divorce is granted. There are two kinds of divorce grounds: fault and no-fault.

A fault divorce is a judicial termination of a marriage based on marital misconduct or other statutory cause requiring proof in a court of law by the divorcing party that the divorcee had done one of several enumerated things as sufficient grounds for the divorce. Many reasons can be given for one party to receive a fault divorce, such as adultery by the other party, an inability by the other party to engage in sexual intercourse, or infertility of the other party that was not discussed beforehand, or one party being imprisoned for a certain length of time. In most jurisdictions, traditional fault-based grounds for divorce continue to be valid. A divorce can be granted on the ground of legal fault only upon proof of misconduct of a serious nature providing an independent contributory or proximate cause of the break-up of the marriage. Mutual incompatibility is insufficient for a divorce based on fault. Even in cases where there is mutual fault, some jurisdictions require a determination as to which party's conduct was the proximate cause of the deterioration of the marriage.

A no-fault divorce is one in which neither party is required to prove fault, and one party must allege and testify only that either irretrievable breakdown of the marriage or irreconcilable differences between the parties makes termination of the marriage appropriate. These “no-fault” statutes were enacted based on the theories that a divorce should be granted when a marriage has broken down, so that parties may be free to form other alliances, to keep pace with contemporary social realities and to reduce guilt and conflict as incidents of divorce, as well as to minimize bitterness resulting from attempts to place blame for an unsuccessful marriage with either the husband or the wife. Forty-nine states of the United States have adopted no-fault divorce laws, with grounds for divorce including incompatibility, irreconcilable differences, and irremediable breakdown of the marriage