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What Are "Grounds" in a Divorce?

The first step in filing for a divorce in Ohio is submitting a petition to your local court. In that paperwork, you must state the grounds for seeking the termination of your marriage. But what are grounds?

Grounds for divorce are the legal reasons you're giving to warrant this action. In other words, you're telling the court, "I am requesting a divorce, and here's why." Without justifiable grounds, a court will not grant your request.

In Ohio, your divorce may be based on fault-based or no-fault grounds. The difference between the two is what you have to prove during your proceedings.

Fault-Based Grounds for a Divorce

If you are alleging that your spouse did something that led to the breakdown of your marriage, you're likely going to file for your divorce on fault-based grounds.

Under O.R.C. § 3105.01, fault-based grounds for a divorce include:

  • One party already had a spouse at the time of the marriage
  • One spouse was willfully absent for at least 1 year
  • Adultery
  • Extreme cruelty
  • Fraudulent contract
  • Gross neglect of duty
  • Habitual drunkenness
  • Imprisonment
  • One spouse received a divorce outside of Ohio that favored only them

If you are seeking a divorce based on fault, you must prove to the court that your spouse engaged in the alleged misconduct.

No-Fault Grounds for a Divorce

Even if you are asking the court to grant a divorce based on no-fault, you must provide a reason for your request. Typically, the grounds include incompatibility and voluntarily living apart for at least 1 year.

In a no-fault divorce, you are still required to provide evidence or testimony to the court to support your claims that the termination of marriage is warranted.

Which Grounds Should I Give?

It's difficult to say whether you should file for a divorce based on fault or no-fault grounds, especially without a full understanding of your situation. Your case is unique, and it would be beneficial to talk about your specific circumstances with a family law attorney. They can advise you on how to proceed and your requirements when requesting a divorce based on particular grounds.

That said, a fault-based divorce can often be more contentious because one party is alleging that the other did something wrong. Such allegations can cause emotions to rise, making it difficult to resolve important issues. However, depending on the circumstances, a fault-based divorce can provide advantages for one party. For instance, if the filing party requests a divorce because their spouse was extremely cruel, the judge may consider the spouse's conduct when determining whether to grant full custody to the filing party.

Because legal reasons must be given for petitioning for a divorce, these matters are sensitive and require delicate handling. At L. Patrick Mulligan & Associates, LLC, we can deliver the guidance you need.

For compassionate legal representation in Dayton, call us at (937) 685-7006 or contact us online today.