Divorce Grounds Fault and No-Fault Divorce Law for Each US State

  1. In order to obtain a divorce, you must establish a reason or "grounds" for your divorce. There are generally two grounds provided by state laws for dissolving a marriage - fault-based divorce and no-fault divorce. State law varies with regard to which (or both) apply and a chart listed below indicates the law of each state.

    If state law allows a "no-fault divorce" then one only needs to state that the marriage has collapsed and there is no need to prove which party is at fault for the failure of the marriage. A common no fault divorce claim is "irreconcilable differences." However, if state law requires grounds based upon fault, then it is required to provide a reason for the marital collapse and also prove that the other spouse was at fault. Common grounds for fault based divorce claims include adultery, abandonment, imprisonment, cruelty and abuse. Most states have both fault and no fault divorce and, at the time of the update of this article, all fifty U.S. states have some type of no fault divorce option. Some states also offer a separation-based option where living apart or separated for a period of time will qualify a spouse for divorce.

    StateFaultNo-FaultSeparate
    AlabamaYYN
    AlaskaYYN
    ArizonaYYN
    ArkansasYYN
    CaliforniaNYN
    ColoradoNYN
    ConnecticutYYY
    DelawareYYN
    D.C.YYY
    FloridaNYN
    GeorgiaYYN
    HawaiiNYY
    IdahoNYN
    IllinoisNYN
    IndianaNYN
    IowaNYN
    KansasNYN
    KentuckyNYY
    LouisianaNYN
    MaineNYN
    MarylandYYN
    MassachusettsNYN
    MichiganNYN
    MinnesotaNYN
    MississippiNYN
    MissouriNYN
    MontanaNYY
    NebraskaNYN
    NevadaNYY
    New HampshireNYN
    New JerseyYYN
    New MexicoNYN
    New YorkYYN
    North CarolinaYYN
    North DakotaNYN
    OhioNYN
    OklahomaNYN
    OregonNYN
    PennsylvaniaNYN
    Rhode IslandNYN
    South CarolinaYYN
    South DakotaNYN
    TennesseeNYN
    TexasNYN
    UtahNYN
    VermontYYN
    VirginiaYYN
    WashingtonNYY
    West VirginiaNYN
    WisconsinNYY
    WyomingNYN
    As state law will change over time, it is important to confirm the law in your state at the time of your filing for divorce.
    Divorce & Family Law:
    Divorce Grounds

    Michael M. Wechsler

    Michael M. Wechsler
    Michael M. Wechsler is an experienced attorney, founder of TheLaw.com and of-counsel to Kaplan, Williams & Graffeo, LLC. He was also an SVP and chief Internet strategist at Zedge.net and legal consultant at Kroll Ontrack, a leading service e-discovery and computer forensics service provider.

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