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What do you mean by “legal grounds” in the context of divorce?

On Behalf of | Mar 21, 2024 | Divorce

The term “legal grounds” typically refers to the basis or justification under the law that supports a party’s position or action in a dispute. Legal grounds are the foundation of legal actions, such as filing a lawsuit, defending against a claim or enforcing a right. In other words, these grounds give you a valid reason to commence a legal action. The legal grounds for divorce refer to the legally acceptable reasons for which one party can file for divorce from their spouse.

Do you need legal grounds to file for divorce in Connecticut?

Connecticut allows for both fault and no-fault grounds for divorce. Because Connecticut is a no-fault divorce state, you might think you do not need legal grounds to divorce your spouse. No-fault divorce means no one is to blame for the marriage failing, but you still need to state why you want to divorce your spouse.

For no-fault divorce in the state, the legal ground is the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. It implies that the marriage has broken down permanently without the possibility of reconciliation. You could also use separation as a ground, but you and your spouse should have lived apart for at least 18 months. In addition to no-fault grounds, Connecticut law also provides several fault-based grounds for divorce, which include:

  • Adultery
  • Fraudulent contract
  • Willful desertion and neglect for one year
  • Seven-year absence without contact
  • Habitual alcoholism
  • Intolerable cruelty
  • Imprisonment for life or a crime violating conjugal duty with a sentence over one year
  • Confinement for mental illness for at least five years

If you choose to file for a fault-based divorce, having legal grounds will not be enough to divorce your spouse. You will need to provide evidence to support your claims, which is why a no-fault divorce is typically the more popular option.

Why do you still need legal grounds for a no-fault divorce?

A divorce legally ends a marriage contract, and the state needs a legal basis to do so. The reason helps determine the divorce process and can affect decisions like alimony and property division. If you file for a no-fault divorce, you are basically admitting that neither you nor your spouse did anything wrong. The state still needs to know why they should grant the divorce.

The requirement of legal grounds ensures that there is a clear and lawful basis for the divorce that is in line with state laws.

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