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Reasons For Divorce — Can You Give One When Filing?

Discover what reasons for divorce are legal in your part of the world

If you’re reading this post, I’ll assume it’s not just out of curiosity. Instead, I’m guessing there’s a reason why you, your partner or both of you are jointly seeking a divorce.

Perhaps there’s been an affair. Domestic violence. You fell out of love. You and your partner mutually agree the relationship needs to end for one reason or another. Or, one partner may be aspiring for more. 

If you’re at the start of this journey one of the many burning question may be ‘can this reason be consider as legal grounds for divorce?’.

Well–to answer that question you’ll need to know whether you’re filing for divorce in a system that recognizes at-fault or no-fault divorces. And, if you’re residing in an at-fault divorce state what are the legal reasons for divorce.

So, let’s break this down for the USA, Australia and UK.

Grounds for Divorce in the USA

At-Fault Divorces (USA)

There are many reasons for a couple or individual to be considering divorce. The reasons for divorce, however, must ultimately fall into what the court considers to be adequate legal grounds. This means, you will need to provide hard evidence as to the reason or misconduct and subsequent irretrievable breakdown of your marriage. It must also fall into legally defined categories.

The legally accepted reasons for divorce can vary from state to state so be sure to seek legal advice within your state and jurisdiction before proceeding.  

Here are the most common at-fault divorce reasons:

  • Adultery or cheating
  • Bigamy
  • Desertion
  • Mental incapacity at time of marriage
  • Marriage between close relatives
  • Impotence at time of marriage
  • Force or fraud in obtaining the marriage
  • Criminal conviction and/or imprisonment
  • Mental or physical abuse
  • Drug or alcohol addiction
  • Mental illness

No-Fault Divorces (USA)

When you and your spouse want a divorce but neither one of you is at fault (or you don’t have sufficient evidence to prove an at-fault divorce) there is the option to file for a no-fault divorce in most US states. Filing is still based on legal grounds. 

Here are some of the terms that are commonly used to describe a no-fault cases:

  • Irreconcilable differences
  • Incompatibility
  • Irretrievable breakdown

You can find out more on Grounds for Divorce in the USA  here.

Grounds for Divorce in Australia

No-Fault Divorces (Australia)

When granting a divorce to couples in Australia the Federal Circuit Court of Australia does not consider why a marriage ended. The only ground for divorce is that the marriage broke down and there is no reasonable likelihood that the parties will get back together. 

The granting of a divorce does not determine issues of financial support, property distribution or arrangements for children. It simply recognises that the marriage has ended.

You need to satisfy the Court that you and your spouse have lived separately and apart for at least 12 months, and there is no reasonable likelihood of resuming married life. It is possible to live together in the same home and still be separated.

You can find out more on Grounds for Divorce in Australia here.

Grounds for Divorce in the United Kingdom

In England and Wales, a divorce is allowed on the ground that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. The Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 specifies that the marriage may be found to have irretrievably broken down if one of the following is established:

  • Adultery
  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Desertion (two years)
  • Separation, agreed divorce (two years)
  • Separation, contested divorce (five years)

A divorce in England and Wales is only possible for marriages of more than one year and when the marriage has irretrievably broken down. 

In March 2020, a bill introducing “no-fault” divorces in England and Wales was backed by MPs. The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill passed its first hurdle in the Commons by 231 votes to 16 against, following a debate. The bbc.com reports that the bill is designed to make the legal process, cost and pain of divorce to families and children less painful. 

You can find out more on the Grounds for Divorce in the UK here.

How Should I Proceed?

Legal advice is an essential part of the separation and divorce process. It’s strongly recommended that you get advice relevant to your jurisdiction before you get started. Hello Mojo is not a law firm and does not claim to give legal advice. 

Want to know how you can protect yourself, your children & your money from day one of your separation? Check out our blog post Getting Divorce? 10 Steps for a Savvy Separation for a detailed checklist of everything you need to do.

Hello Mojo’s The Hello Directory  is a trusted hub for you to connect with businesses, products and services that will support and enrich your separation experience. This is a global directory covering every aspect of the separation process from lawyers to divorce coaches, health and wellness specialists to ring resellers, money experts and counselling services plus so much more. The perfect resource to set you off in the right direction. 

For more support download our FREE ebook 5 Separation & Divorce Hacks for loads more tips and information on getting started.

You’re doing just fine.  Take it one day at a time.  And remember, be especially kind to yourself. 

With love & gratitude,

Annie Kendall
Founder | Hello Mojo



Annie Kendall

Hello Mojo’s founder & CEO, Annie Kendall, is an entrepreneur, the editor-in-chief of Hello Mojo Magazine, an author, blogger, speaker, and single mother. Out on the other side of her own 3-year separation and divorce, Annie's committed to helping others feel more empowered throughout the process, secure their best possible outcome and move beyond to live a life they love.