If you have legal reasons for divorce, you may be:
- able to bypass the separation period
- entitled to more financial support
- entitled to a larger share of the marital property
- excused from paying alimony
So, you are probably wondering if you have valid legal reasons for divorce.
Let’s dig right into them.
The Legal Reasons For Divorce
- Abuse and Cruelty
- Abandonment or Desertion
- Mental Capacity
- Mental Illness
- Criminal Conviction
- Forced or Fraudulent Marriage
- Alcohol and Drug Abuse
- Inability To Have Children
- Married to Relatives
- Pregnancy By Another Man
- Irreconcilable Differences
Do I Need A Valid Reason For Divorce?
Technically, you don’t need any legal reasons for divorce.
You can claim a no-fault divorce.
When you claim a no-fault divorce, neither party has to accuse the other of wrongdoing.
When you file the petition for divorce, you don’t have to include faults for divorce.
You can just check “Irreconcilable Differences” for your reasons for divorce.
This also keeps you from having to prove that your spouse was at fault for the divorce.
When you choose irreconcilable differences, you may have to be separated for 6+ months before you can get granted a no-fault divorce.
Fault-Based Legal Reasons for Divorce
A fault divorce is when someone files for divorce using legal reasons for divorce.
This means that one spouse is at fault for causing the divorce.
Fault-based divorces usually end up being contested divorces.
And the cost of divorce is much higher when it’s contested.
But there is a caveat here.
If a spouse can prove fault, they may get more marital property and alimony during the divorce.
While this is the case, it’s important to note that not every state allows fault divorces.
Related: How to Leave Your Husband
One of the most common legal reasons for divorce that we see is adultery.
Adultery is defined as a spouse having a sexual relationship outside of the marriage.
A sexual relationship is any sexual activity with someone outside of the marriage.
It’s important to note that sexting, have oral, or kiss another person, is not considered adultery.
Per the divorce laws, only intercourse gets considered adultery.
Proving adultery is circumstantial.
Meaning your evidence can be proving that your spouse had the opportunity and intention to have intercourse.
Let’s say your spouse has been meeting someone at a hotel.
You may not be able to prove that they have had intercourse.
But you can prove that they have been meeting this person at a hotel repeatedly.
To prove adultery as a legal reason for divorce, you need evidence such as:
- phone records
- bank and credit card statements
- other witnesses
If you need help proving adultery, fill out the form on this page.
Our attorneys are experienced in successfully proving adultery.
Bigamy is pretty simple. One of the persons getting married is already married to someone else.
Where monogamy means being with one person.
Bigamy means that someone is with two people.
In the case of marriages, it means that someone has married two people.
If someone commits bigamy, it is a punishable crime.
The penalties for bigamy are typically 5 years in prison.
The charges and penalties vary by state.
But, across the board, bigamy is:
- high-level misdemeanor
- low-level felony
If you are filing for divorce, you need to prove bigamy.
To prove bigamy, you can use a:
- testimony from the first spouse
- testimony from the person who performed the marriage ceremony
- photo and video evidence
Another one of the legal reasons for divorce is abuse and cruelty.
Related: Grounds for Full Custody of Child
3. Abuse and Cruelty
If you are a victim of abuse or cruel treatment, the courts are very much in your favor.
As far as proving this as a legal reason for divorce, all the courts need is the testimony of the abused spouse.
This doesn’t mean you can just walk into the courts and say you’ve been abused.
You still have to prove it.
You don’t need other witnesses to prove abuse and cruelty.
But note that a disagreement or an argument is not considered abuse or cruelty.
According to divorce laws, the following is considered cruelty and abuse:
- physical attacks
- continuous rage, anger, screaming or yelling
- constant belittling abilities, employments, and looks
- publicly flaunting an affair
- falsely accusing an innocent spouse of adultery
- not telling a spouse about a sexually transmitted disease and continuing to have sex
- consistently staying away from the marital home without explanation
To prove abuse or cruelty as a legal reason for divorce, you should provide the courts with:
- police reports
- medical records
- text messages
- photos of injuries
- photos of property damage
If you need help gathering evidence to prove cruelty and abuse, fill out the form on this blog.
Our experienced divorce lawyers will walk you through the process to build your case.
Related: Reasons a Judge Will Change Custody
4. Abandonment or Desertion
Abandonment means that one spouse leaves the family home without communication or warning.
But, if your spouse leaves the house for two weeks without telling you, that’s not a legal reason for divorce.
They have to have left the family house for one year for it to be a legal reason for divorce.
When using this as a fault, you have to prove that your spouse left with willful intent to desert you.
What if a spouse has children that are financially dependent on them and they abandon the family?
That person COULD be charged with criminal abandonment.
There is also constructive abandonment.
Constructive abandonment is when one spouse refuses to have sexual relations for over a year.
This is because sexual relations and procreation are fundamental to marriage.
Failure to have sexual relations is abandonment to the relationship.
Our next legal reason for divorce is mental illness.
Related: Questions to Ask A Divorce Lawyer
5. Mental Capacity At Time Of Marriage
When you file for divorce, in cases of severe mental illness, a spouse can seek divorce due to incurable mental illness.
But, a few things must happen for you to use mental health as a legal reason for divorce:
- A spouse has been confined to an institution for mental health.
- A spouse has been under mental health treatment for 2+ years.
- A spouse has been found as mentally ill by the courts.
- A spouse has been verified as mentally ill by two doctors.
- The superintendent of the health facility testifies that the spouse does not comprehend the marital relationship anymore.
6. Mental Illness
There are strict requirements for using mental illness as a legal reason for divorce.
- A physician of the mental institute must testify that the person is unable to comprehend their marital relationship anymore.
- They must have been admitted to a mental institution for at least two years before filing for divorce.
- The mentally ill person must be adjudged mentally ill by the court or be certified as mentally ill by two physicians.
Mental illnesses can affect who has custody of a child when the parents are not married.
The spouse who does not have the mental illness may end up having to fork out more money, though.
Mental illnesses affect a person’s earning abilities.
According to alimony laws, you may have to pay more in financial support to your spouse with a mental illness.
7. Criminal Conviction
Another legal reason for divorce is a criminal conviction.
But, just because someone gets charged doesn’t mean you can use the charges.
You can only use this as a legal reason for divorce if they go to prison for 2+ years.
If the prison term is 2+ years, then you can file for divorce with this as your legal reason for divorce.
8. Forced or Fraudulent Marriage
A forced marriage is one that takes place without the consent of both spouses.
Consent means that your marriage is based on a full, free, and informed agreement.
And that you intended to marry your spouse.
Forced marriages can occur due to physical or emotional abuse, threats, or deception.
Someone misrepresenting themselves for a marriage is a legal reason for divorce.
A few examples of fraud in marriage are hiding:
- medical conditions
- previous marriages
- legal issues
- mental illnesses
If your spouse has misrepresented themselves, you may be eligible for an annulment.
9. Alcohol and Drug Abuse
Another one of the common legal reasons for divorce is an addiction to drugs and alcohol.
The reason is that substance abuse is correlated with domestic violence.
And mistreatment of spouses is the main factor in why this is a legal reason for divorce.
To prove substance abuse for divorce, you may need:
- drug tests
- time in rehab facilities
- phone records
To use this as a legal reason for divorce, the substance abuse must have been taking place for two years.
10. Inability To Have Children
The inability to have children is one of the legal reasons for divorce.
Per the divorce laws, impotency is the grounds for divorce.
Impotency does not only mean the inability to have kids.
It also means the inability to have sexual relations with your spouse.
A spouse that withholds sex is not deemed impotent.
And an infertile spouse, or a spouse that cannot produce a child, is not considered impotence.
Physical, psychological, or medical conditions that make it impossible to have sex are impotency.
Related: Dissolution vs Divorce
11. Married to Relatives
Being married to a closely related relative is considered a consanguineous marriage.
Consanguineous marriage is one where second cousins or closer relatives get married.
This is prohibited because of the similar gene pools.
It’s more likely that their children get double doses of recessive genes.
The list of people in your family that you cannot marry are:
- children / grandchildren
- nephews / nieces
- uncles / aunts
Related: Emergency Custody
12. Pregnancy By Another Man
Getting a divorce while pregnant, but your wife is pregnant by another man?
This will definitely end up being a contested divorce.
While this is a valid legal reason for divorce, it’s a tricky one.
A married man is presumed to be the father.
It doesn’t matter whose baby that kid is.
If a child is born during a marriage, the husband is presumed to be the father.
And this means that the husband is responsible for child support and custody.
This presumption can be challenged in a couple of ways.
Either the mother or the father can challenge the presumption.
The courts will order the husband to take a DNA test to prove paternity.
No-Fault Legal Reasons For Divorce
When filing for divorce, you will most likely file as a no-fault divorce.
This means that neither party was to blame for the separation.
It also means that neither party has to gather evidence to back up the reason for divorce.
A no-fault divorce is when the spouse filing for divorce does not have to prove wrongdoing.
To get a no-fault divorce, one has to file the divorce under a reason for divorce that the state recognizes.
Usually, this reason is irreconcilable differences.
13. Irreconcilable Differences
There are 5 main irreconcilable differences that we use all the time with our clients.
The 5 irreconcilable differences are:
With irreconcilable differences, you’re telling the courts that neither party is at fault.
This is the best way to have an uncontested divorce.
And that means that your cost of divorce is going to be much lower.
And that your divorce process will be much faster.
Proving Legal Reasons For Divorce
We know that a divorce can leave your life in shambles…
And that divorce lawyers are not truly fighting for what’s in your best interests.
- dropping the ball on your case
- not communicating with you
- negotiating for things you don’t even want
- burning through your money
How they handle your case isn’t even the bad part.
It’s what a poorly ran law firm does to your life.
One bad lawyer can cause you to:
- lose custody of your children
- have reduced visitation time (if any at all)
- lose marital property
- not discover assets your spouse is hiding
- get saddled with the marital debts
- have an unnecessary highly contested divorce
With our reliable processes, our clients have been able to:
- get more custody with their children
- increase their visitation time
- keep their fair share of marital property and debts
- cut their divorce time down by months
- save thousands in lawyer fees
Fill out the form below for your free consultation.