No. You cannot divorce without citing legal grounds. The grounds for divorce depend on whether you are filing a no-fault or an at-fault divorce.
In a no-fault divorce, there are three common grounds for divorce. The petitioning spouse can cite any one ground in his/her petition to set the divorce process into motion. No blame is assigned to the other spouse and the petitioning spouse does not have to prove any allegation in the courts because there is none. The no-fault grounds for divorce are:
- Irretrievable breakdown of marriage
- Irreconcilable differences (most commonly cited)
In an at-fault divorce, the legal grounds depend on the circumstances of the case. The petitioning spouse has to allege that the other spouse committed marital wrongdoing (which led to the divorce), and conclusively prove the allegation in the courts. The marital misdemeanor can include:
- Domestic violence
- Physical, sexual, or mental abuse
- Fraud (in getting married or after the marriage)
- Mental illness
- Substance addiction
- Criminal conviction (for a serious crime)
- Mental or physical abuse
- Any other wrongdoing specified by your state
Choosing between No-Fault and At-Fault Divorce
As of June 2022, just 19 U.S. states are truly no-fault divorce states. However, the other U.S. states, which are at-fault divorce states, do allow spouses to file for no-fault divorce.
On a practical level, filing for a no-fault divorce is like filing for divorce without mentioning grounds because there are just three common grounds to choose from. Due to the simpler and quicker procedure for no-fault divorce, most spouses prefer to file a no-fault divorce petition. Approximately 98% of such divorces get resolved before they reach a trial – either by negotiations between the spouses’ divorce attorneys or by ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) processes like mediation or collaborative divorce.
Completing an at-fault divorce is time-consuming, expensive, acrimonious, and subject to deceit. Plus the evidence against the at-fault spouse needs to be absolutely rock-solid and watertight. A majority of spouses do not prefer an at0fault divorce and instead opt for no-fault divorce because it reduces acrimony and stress, is easy on the children, and saves time and money.
Practical Answer to “Can I Divorce Without Grounds?”
Well, the practical, real-world answer to “Can I divorce without grounds?”is “yes” you can, only when you file for a no-fault divorce. That’s because, in a no-fault divorce, all you do is choose one of the three legally recognized reasons to divorce, which may or may not necessarily be true. Therefore, from a practical point of view, you can literally divorce without grounds when you file for a no-fault divorce.
However, if you are filing for an at-fault divorce, then you have to mention the grounds for divorce from both technical and practical perspectives. Not just that, you need to prove your allegations in court.