Grounds for Absolute Divorce
An absolute divorce can be obtained after a one year waiting period for the reasons noted below. (If adultery, cruelty, and/or excessively vicious conduct are present in the marriage, the one year waiting period does not apply. The waiting period also does not apply to a Mutual Consent divorce.)
- Statutory Separation: Both spouses have lived separate and apart without cohabitation for twelve months without interruption, and there is no hope or expectation of reconciliation.
- Adultery: Adultery does not need to be proven by direct evidence, but it can be shown through indirect evidence, such as regular correspondence to the spouse’s lover.
- Desertion: Desertion occurs when one spouse leaves the marriage and is gone for a continuous period of 12 months (in other words, it is not a mutually agreed upon separation). To prove a valid desertion, the spouses must not be having sexual relations, one spouse must have the intent to terminate the marriage relationship, the desertion must continue uninterrupted for 12 months, and the spouses have no reasonable hope or expectation of reconciliation.
- Twelve-Month Imprisonment Under Felony or Misdemeanor Sentence: If one spouse is convicted of a felony or misdemeanor within the United States and serves at least 12 months of a minimum three-year sentence in any penal institution, the other spouse may seek a divorce.
- Insanity: At least two psychiatrists must determine that one spouse is incurably insane and that spouse must be committed to an asylum, hospital, or a similar institution. The other spouse may then obtain a divorce after at least three years.
- Cruelty of Treatment Toward a Complaining Party or to a Minor Child of the Complaining Party: Cruelty towards a spouse or the minor child of the victim-spouse must be serious, and there must be a pattern of cruelty that is detrimental to a victim’s health or happiness. Additionally, there must be no hope of reconciliation between the spouses.
- Excessively Vicious Conduct Toward a Complaining Party or to a Minor Child of the Complaining Party: Excessively vicious conduct is similar to cruelty of treatment as defined above, but it is considered by the court to be more serious.
- Mutual Consent: A couple with no minor children in common can sign and submit to the Court a written settlement agreement covering alimony and property rights, then appear at an uncontested divorce hearing. No waiting period is required, and the couple does not need to be separated.