Introduction to Divorce Laws

Divorce Laws

Divorce Laws

Divorce laws vary according to State. Almost every State in the US has its own set of laws dealing with divorce between the couples. The most common categories of divorce, i.e., Fault and No-Fault basis, have different grounds in different State jurisdictions. Expectedly, no-fault divorces are granted by every State, but there are some States that do not recognize fault divorces. There are at least 15 States that recognize only no-fault divorces without any provision for fault divorces. Notwithstanding the fault and no-fault divorces, all States within the United States of America offer divorce to married couples on multiple grounds.

No-Fault Divorce

Any spouse petitioning to get a no-fault divorce is excused from proving misconduct by the other spouse. The petitioning spouse simply needs to declare a reason acceptable to the court in that jurisdiction for the grant of divorce on no-fault ground. Most common ground usually resorted to by the spouses is incompatibility, i.e., failure to get along with each others lifestyle. Different States may use different terminology to describe incompatibility, like irretrievable breakdown of marriage, irreconcilable differences among couples, etc. However, this is the most used ground for divorce in almost all States in the US.

Some States also require the couple to live separately for a stipulated period of time before they can be granted divorce on no-fault basis. This separation time varies from few months to two years depending on the Forum State.

Fault Divorce

The States that recognize fault divorce require different conditions to be fulfilled before the grant of divorce on fault basis. Usually, in such cases, the differences among the couple are far more deep rooted than simple incompatibility. The general grounds of divorce under fault basis include impotence, adultery, conviction on the charges of felony, cruelty including infliction of physical or emotional abuse on the petitioning spouse, failure to consummate marriage, desertion of the petitioning spouse, imprisonment, habitual drunkenness, mental sickness, etc. In order to successfully plead these grounds, specific requirements as mandated by the applicable law need to be fulfilled. Mostly, it’s the time requirements that vary from State to State for the applicability of these grounds.

There also exist some miscellaneous and rarely used grounds for divorce under fault theory, like infection of spouse with some sexually transmitted disease (STD), habitual intemperance, fraudulent contract, willful neglect, voluntary separation, intolerable indignities, woman getting pregnant by a man other than her husband, etc.

Irrespective of the grounds pleaded by the parties, the divorce proceedings have a profound impact on the lives of the affected couple. Hiring a family lawyer to take care of legal proceedings pertaining to divorce matters makes sense in more ways than one. Firstly, you will be exempted from personally completing the formalities and legalities associated with a divorce case, which seems a liability especially when one is facing turmoil in the personal life. Secondly, the divorce lawyer will ensure that your interests in the legal proceedings are taken care of in the way you desire. Thirdly, a family lawyer is the best individual to inform you about your rights and duties before, during and after the divorce proceedings.