What Are The Reasonable Grounds For Divorce?

divorce lawyers in chicago ilIn the United States, every state has its own set of rules regarding divorce and what constitutes as ‘reasonable grounds’ for one. Nowadays, there are basically two different types of divorces available to couples who believe that ending their marriage is the only option left. The two available options are ‘fault’ and ‘no fault’ divorces. In this article, we are going to talk about the differences in these two types of divorces, and about what constitutes as reasonable grounds for divorce in each case.  As divorce lawyers in Chicago, the office of Touloupakis Aguirre specializes in Illinois divorce law, of course, one needs to keep in mind that every state is different, so specific details (such as time frames for separation) may vary from state to state.

In this article, we are going to stick to the ‘basics’, and give you some general guidelines that will translate to real, useable information on what constitutes as ‘reasonable grounds for divorce’ regardless of what state you are in.

No-Fault Divorce

Every state in the United States now allows for a ‘no fault’ divorce option. A no fault divorce would describe a marriage in which the couple decides mutually that they no longer feel that it would be worth it to try and patch things up. This type of divorce is easy to obtain, is less expensive, and doesn’t place guilt on any particular member of the marriage. Of course, different states have different requirements that must be met before a divorce will be awarded, but the following is a list of reasonable grounds that are most commonly used as reasons for no-fault divorces.

Legal Separation

If a couple has been living apart for enough time to satisfy the state law requirements for a no-fault divorce, than separation may be used as reasonable grounds for divorce. Some states require that the couple be separated for months, while in others, the couple will need to prove that they have not co-inhabitated for up to five years before a divorce will be granted.

Irretrievable Breakdown (Also known as ‘Irreconcilable Differences’)

Every state now allows for couples who simply decide that they no longer wish to be together (for basically any reason) to file for a no-fault divorce using Irretrievable Breakdown as reasonable grounds. This is basically translated as a ‘breakdown’ in the marriage that was not caused by either partner, but that both agree makes the marriage unworkable. In order to file for a divorce under these grounds, the couple is simply required to put together an affidavit stating that their marriage is ‘irreparably broken’ and sign it while under oath.

most common reasons for divorce

Fault Divorce

A fault divorce is basically a divorce that is awarded when one partner meets the burden of proof to show that the other partner did something wrong, thereby justifying divorce based on the wrong-doing of the spouse at fault. Fault divorces are much less common nowadays than they used to be, mostly due to the widespread state acceptance of no-fault divorces. They do, however, have a place in the court system, especially for partners who are divorcing their spouse for some type of abuse that may merit a conviction, and even more especially in a case where children are involved.

Of course, state regulations for what will pass as reasonable grounds for a fault divorce vary from state to state, but here is some general information that summarizes the most common grounds for such a separation.


Adultery has basically occurred when one person is unfaithful to the other in terms of sexual fidelity. In order for adultery to be grounds for divorce, proof must be submitted that the spouse in question actually committed the acts that they were accused of.


Cruelty can basically be described as any sort of calculated and/or deliberate abuse, pain, or suffering that is inflicted on one spouse by the other over a prolonged period of time within the marital relationship. Physical attacks, displays of rage, violent/threatening behavior, screaming, public displays of anger, and false accusations are all examples of behavior that could constitute as ‘cruelty’ where divorce proceedings are concerned. Of course, the burden of proof must be met before a divorce can be granted on these grounds.

Abandonment (Also known as Desertion or Parental Alienation)

Abandonment is basically the act of leaving the household and not returning. In essence, this can become a reasonable cause for divorce when one partner has been effectively ‘deserted’ by the other. Leaving the household without permission, even for military deployments and other extended engagements, does not constitute abandonment. Likewise, a spouse leaving to escape abuse or neglect would not be at fault for it either. Abandonment is more technically an unmerited, unprovoked absence of any kind that, by all intents and purposes, seems to be permanent.

Mental Illness

Incurable mental illness can be reasonable grounds for divorce, as long as the burden of proof is met and that there is sufficient evidence to show that whatever psychological disorder is in place makes marriage effectively impossible. The mental illness must also be incurable in order to be considered reasonable grounds for divorce.

Criminal Conviction

If one of the partners has been convicted of a crime or sentenced to jail time, than reasonable grounds for a divorce may be met as long as the spouse seeking the divorce can prove that the other was convicted of some type of legal offence. In a lot of states, it is required that the offending spouse be serving time in prison before criminal conviction can be considered reasonable grounds for divorce.


Nowadays, finding reasonable grounds for divorce can be as easy as two people agreeing that their marriage is ‘broken beyond repair’ due to breakdowns in communication, incompatibility, or any number of other reasons. No-fault marriages of this kind are definitely becoming more common for several reasons. For one, they offer more privacy. Secondly, they are considered to be easier on the rest of the family, mostly because blame is not being placed on another in the public medium of a courtroom. Of course, regulations vary by state, though all states have at least some form of allowance for a no fault divorce, meaning that finding reasonable grounds for divorce has actually become incredibly simple, inexpensive (when compared to fault divorce), and by most counts, less emotionally traumatic for all involved.


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