Grounds for Divorce

Many people have heard the term “grounds for divorce” in the context of a contested divorce proceeding. Equally familiar are terms like “no-fault divorce” or “irreconcilable difference,” which indicate that grounds for divorce may not be necessary. These terms can be confusing and seem contradictory, and with good reason. The information below is intended to help clarify what grounds for divorce may be and how they may affect your divorce case.

Grounds for Divorce and “Fault” Divorces

Until relatively recently, a person seeking a divorce in the United States was required to establish that they had a reason that justified the divorce. These types of divorces are often referred to as “fault divorces” and required the party seeking the divorce to establish fault by showing that he or she had “grounds” for divorce. Grounds for divorce generally involve marital misconduct and include things like adultery, abandonment, abuse, or habitual substance abuse.

Today, however, all states recognize some form of no-fault divorce, meaning that married couples can end their marriages simply bv filing for divorce and waiting for certain procedural events to occur. As a result, most divorce cases do not involve establishing any grounds for divorce and simply proceed without establishing fault.

What is a Covenant Marriage in Arizona?

Arizona is one of a few states that have established a legally distinct form of marriage known as a “covenant marriage.” In these marriages, the couple has agreed to go through premarital counseling and also agree to have more limited grounds for divorce should they decide to seek one later. In addition to entering into a covenant marriage to begin with, a couple can later convert an earlier marriage into a covenant marriage. In a covenant marriage, the party seeking the divorce must prove that he or she has grounds to seek a divorce under Arizona law.

What are Grounds for Divorce in Maricopa County?

In order for a person who has entered into a covenant marriage to get a divorce, one of the following 8 reasons must be proven to the court.

  • Your spouse has committed adultery.
  • Your spouse has committed a serious crime.
  • Your spouse has been absent from the marital home for at least one year. In addition, a person may file for divorce if the spouse has left and is expected to stay away from the home for at least a year. The case will put on hold until the period of one year has elapsed. During the time that the case is pending, the court can grant and enforce temporary orders for things like child support, spousal maintenance, and parenting time.
  • Your spouse has committed physical or sexual abuse against you, a child, or your relative lives in the home, or has committed domestic violence.
  • You and your spouse have been living apart for at least two years. You may file if you expect that the two year period will be met, and the case will be put on hold until the two-year requirement is met. While the case is pending, the court can grant and enforce temporary orders for things like spousal maintenance, child support, and parenting time.
  • You and your spouses have been granted a legal separation and have been living apart continuously for at least one year.
  • Your spouse habitually uses drugs or alcohol.
  • You and your spouse agree to a divorce.

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