13 Legal Reasons for Divorce That Are Commonly Used

When a marriage ends, a legal reason needs to be given in the divorce proceedings. Legal reasons for divorce are what the court considers to be appropriate for the ending of such a partnership. Only a judge is empowered to authorize an end to a marital home.

As you discuss the divorce proceedings with your family lawyer, you may be wondering how to approach your case appropriately. Here are 13 legal reasons for divorce that can be provided in court to cease a union:

Reason #1: Adultery

Adultery is one of the most common legal reasons for divorce. Adultery is defined as ‘having a sexual relationship with someone who is not your spouse’. A relationship that is not sexual is not considered adulterous. A single act of adultery is a sufficient basis on which divorce can occur. If either spouse commits an act of adultery, the other may proceed with a petition to end the marriage.

Reason #2: Living Apart

If a couple has lived apart for an extended period of time – usually over a year – the court will assume the intention that these two people do not intend to live under the same roof anymore. Strengthening one’s cause is if the married couple live in separate rooms, do not communicate with one another, buy groceries separately, do not eat together, and have separate social lives.

Reason #3: Mental Cruelty

Mental cruelty that is intolerable to the victim can be used as grounds for divorce. Mental cruelty includes harassment and insults, humiliations and mistreatments, threating a spouse or their family, and/or having an affair. Various factors are taken into account by the courts when examining mental cruelty in the confines of a marriage, including whether the actions are intention, how often incidents occur, and impact on the victim.

Reason #4: Physical Cruelty

A spouse that has been mistreated with physical cruelty is within their rights to file for divorce. Physical cruelty includes beating your spouse, physically hurting your spouse with an intent to harm, and/or sexually abusing your spouse.

Reason #5: Desertion

Desertion, aka marital abandonment, occurs when a spouse either leaves the family or is unreachable. If they refuse their legal marital obligations, such as refusing to take care of a dependent spouse, this can also be considered as a form of abandonment. Desertion is a legal reason to file for divorce.

Reason #6: Bigamy

Bigamy is when someone who is already legally married attempts to wed a second time. It’s outlawed to have two marriages concurrently. In order to marry a second time, one must complete divorce proceedings relating to their first marriage. If they attempt to marry without divorcing, the attempted marriage will be invalidated.

Reason #7: Fraud

Fraud is an intentional misrepresentation of one’s self to induce someone to marry. In divorce, fraud includes things like a hiding of assets, economic misconduct, perjury, and lying. A judge evaluates to what degree a fraudulent act may have impacted a marriage and the effects fraudulent behaviour has had on the victim.

Reason #8: Irreconcilable Differences

‘Irreconcilable differences’. We all know that one. It is one of the most common reasons for divorce. Irreconcilable differences can mean many things but most often reference having and/or raising children, family involvement in one’s marriage, sexual intimacy, financial responsibilities, communication breakdowns, or an inability to balance priorities of home and work.

Reason #9: Intoxication

Another legal reason for divorce is if a spouse has demonstrated a pattern of using excessive amounts of alcohol or drugs. To file, one must prove their spouse is doing it on their own and provide evidence that they are doing it regularly and not once in a while. If your spouse has a drug or alcohol addiction, or a history of it, this strengths the case for divorce on grounds of intoxication.

Reason #10: Impotence

Impotence is the inability to have sexual relations. It can stem from a physical, medical, or psychological condition as to why one cannot engage in sexual relations. The law also has a distinction between the inability to engage in sexual activity and a refusal or avoidance. Impotence is a claim which must be tested before the courts and is subject to a judge’s approval.

Reason #11: Imprisonment

Imprisonment is grounds for divorce in some jurisdictions. The details of the incarceration have to be analyzed, however, by the judge to determine the validity of using this as grounds for proceedings.

Reason #12: Mental Illness

In every jurisdiction, the rule of mental illness being a legal reason for divorce can be a little different. Temporary illness – a la depression – is no grounds for divorce. One must demonstrate there’s an element of incurability or that it is a mental condition such as schizophrenia. Under normal conditions, it is very difficult to use mental illness as a legal reason for divorce.

Reason #13: Do I Always Need A Reason to Get Divorced?

When filing for a divorce, yes, you have to provide a legal reason. That said, it can be as simple as not getting along with your spouse. The reason can also be you simply do not want to be married any longer. Although it can seem complicated, know that no matter what the situation is, you can always get a divorce.