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Do I need to have a certain reason to divorce my spouse?

Deciding to end your marriage is a big decision that may require careful consideration. If you have determined that ending your marriage is the best path forward, you have probably taken the necessary time to evaluate your personal reasons for this decision.

However, your personal reason for divorce may not be enough. A court will only grant you a divorce if you select a legally valid reason, called a ground.

Most grounds blame your spouse

Ohio recognizes 11 grounds for divorce. Most of these grounds are fault-based grounds. This means that by choosing one of these grounds you would be blaming your spouse for the need for divorce.

Fault-based grounds recognized by Ohio courts include:

  • A spouse was already married at the time the couple was married
  • Adultery
  • Extreme cruelty
  • Fraudulent contract
  • Gross neglect of duty
  • Habitual drunkenness
  • Imprisonment in a state or federal correctional institution
  • One spouse was already granted divorce in another state

Two no-fault grounds exist

Ohio courts also recognize two no-fault grounds. These grounds do not blame either spouse for the divorce.

One no-fault ground is that you and your spouse have lived apart for at least one year. The other no-fault ground is that you two are simply incompatible. However, you will not be able to use this ground if your spouse does not agree that incompatibility caused the need for divorce.

The ground that you choose when seeking a divorce can vary from your personal reasons. However, you must be able to prove the ground that you choose. Because of this, it can be just as important to carefully consider what ground your will use as it is to choose your personal reasons for ending your marriage.

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