What Are The Grounds For Divorce?
Minnesota has a “no-fault” divorce law. This means it is not necessary to prove your spouse is at fault for the breakup of the marriage. It is only necessary to prove that there has been “an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage relationship.” This means that there is no hope that the spouses will want to live together again as husband and wife.
Because Minnesota has a no-fault divorce law, a spouse who wants a divorce is almost certain to be granted one by the court even if the other spouse does not want a divorce.
It also means that the fault of either spouse in the breakup of the marriage cannot be considered by the court in deciding custody, division of property, or anything else.
Many people think that when a couple wants to live apart they have to get a “legal separation.” This is not true. Often couples live apart for a while before they decide to get a divorce. This is not “illegal.” Legal separations are for people who do not want a divorce (usually for religious reasons). They still need a legal paper to settle custody, support, and property questions. The court makes the same kinds of decisions that it makes in a divorce. However, the couple remain married, and the division of property is not final.
A legal separation is similar to a divorce. It takes as long as a divorce. If the court grants a legal separation and the husband or wife decides later to get a divorce, a new case must be started. A legal separation is not a necessary step in the divorce process. For people whose religion prevents divorce, a legal separation may be best.
What’s the Legal Difference Between Annulment and Divorce?
There are two ways to legally end a marriage – annulment and divorce. An annulment is a legal procedure which cancels a marriage between a man and a woman. Annulling a marriage is as though it is completely erased – legally, it declares that the marriage never technically existed and was never valid.
A divorce, or legal dissolution of a marriage, is the ending of a valid marriage between a man and a woman returning both parties to single status with the ability to remarry. While each individual state has its own laws regarding grounds for marriage annulment or divorce, certain requirements apply nationwide.
An annulment case can be initiated by either the husband or the wife in the marriage. The party initiating the annulment must prove that he or she has the grounds to do so and if it can be proven, the marriage will be considered null and void by the court. The following is a list of common grounds for annulment and a short explanation of each point:
Bigamy – either party was already married to another person at the time of the marriage
Forced Consent – one of the spouses was forced or threatened into marriage and only entered into it under duress
Fraud – one of the spouses agreed to the marriage based on the lies or misrepresentation of the other
Marriage Prohibited By Law – marriage between parties that based on their familial relationship is considered incestuous
Mental Illness – either spouse was mentally ill or emotionally disturbed at the time of the marriage
Mental Incapacity – either spouse was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the marriage and was unable to make informed consent
Inability to Consummate Marriage – either spouse was physically incapable of having sexual relations or impotent during the marriage
Underage Marriage – either spouse was too young to enter into marriage without parental consent or court approval
Depending on your state of residence, a divorce can be much more complicated than an annulment. Like annulment cases, each state has its own set of laws regarding divorce. In most divorce cases, marital assets are divided and debts are settled. If the marriage has produced children, a divorce proceeding determines custody of the children, visitation rights and spousal and child support issues.
Each state can have either a no-fault divorce or a fault divorce. A no-fault divorce allows the dissolution of a legal marriage with neither spouse being named the “guilty party” or the cause for the marital break-up.
Many states now offer the “no-fault” divorce option, a dissolution of a legal marriage in which neither party accepts blame for the marital break-up. In the absence of a “guilty party,” some states require a waiting period of a legal separation before a no-fault divorce can take place. For this reason, in addition to cases where one spouse wishes to assign blame, some parties seek to expedite the legal process by pursuing a traditional, “fault” divorce.
A “fault” divorce is only granted when one spouse can prove adequate grounds. Like an annulment, these grounds vary from state to state, however, there are some overarching commonalities. These guidelines often include addition to drugs, alcohol or gambling, incurable mental illness, and conviction of a crime. The major grounds for divorce that apply in every state are listed below:
Adultery – one or both spouses engages in extramarital relationships with others during the marriage
Desertion – one spouse abandons the other, physically and emotionally, for a lengthy period of time
Physical/Emotional Abuse – one spouse subjects the other to physical or violent attacks or emotional or psychological abuse such as abusive language, and threats of physical violence
Your state law and particular situation will determine whether or not your annulment or divorce will be simple or complex. Familiarizing yourself with the laws for your particular state is the best way to learn what your rights are in the case of a marital dissolution and help you determine whether an annulment vs. divorce is right for you.