Is the Absence of Sexual Relations Grounds for Divorce?

By Teo Spengler

Sexual behavior outside the marriage and the lack of sexual relations within the marriage can serve as grounds for divorce in states that continue to allow "fault" divorces. But all fifty states now authorize no-fault divorces, allowing either spouse to dissolve a marriage citing irreconcilable differences. However, you still have the option of filing for divorce on "fault" grounds in many states.

Sexual behavior outside the marriage and the lack of sexual relations within the marriage can serve as grounds for divorce in states that continue to allow "fault" divorces. But all fifty states now authorize no-fault divorces, allowing either spouse to dissolve a marriage citing irreconcilable differences. However, you still have the option of filing for divorce on "fault" grounds in many states.

Fault Divorces

In yesteryear, a spouse had to plead and prove that she suffered at the hands of her spouse to end a marriage. Traditional grounds included desertion, cruelty, abandonment, adultery, insanity and failure to consummate a marriage. Failure to engage in marital relations can be considered a type of constructive desertion, cruelty or abandonment.

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No-Fault Divorces

In the 1970s, states began to allow residents to divorce without establishing blame. No-fault divorces are based on statements of irremediable differences between the spouses instead of charges of egregious behavior. All 50 states permit no-fault divorce, although some require the spouses to live apart for a certain period before they can file in court.

Assigning Fault

Some states only allow no-fault divorces, while others offer fault and no-fault. A spouse may decide to file for divorce on fault grounds to avoid a waiting period. For example, in Maryland, fault divorce proceeds immediately, but to file for a no-fault divorce, a couple must live separately for a year. Charges of inappropriate behavior also can give a spouse an advantage in contested divorce issues such as child custody, property division or support payments.

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Divorce for Withholding Affection

References

Related articles

Is the State of Maryland a No-Fault State for Divorces?

State laws normally include several grounds for divorce. Among the common grounds for divorce are adultery, cruelty, abandonment and desertion. Maryland recognizes these grounds for divorce, but in 2011 added a no-fault ground: a one-year separation between the spouses. This means that the spouses must have separate residences for at least one year and must not have sexual relations during that time.

Legally Admissible Reasons for Divorce

Almost every state has its own version of both fault and no-fault divorces. No-fault divorce is the result of widespread reformation of divorce laws that began during the 1970s. By the mid 1980s, almost every state had its own version of no-fault divorce on the books. Nuances in state law make it extremely important for individuals to be aware of the divorce law within the state where they live. Generally speaking, there are basic tenets involved in a fault and no-fault divorce, no matter which state you call home.

The Justification for a Divorce

Every state requires that parties filing for divorce give a legally recognized reason for seeking to end the marriage. These are called grounds, which can be categorized as either fault or no-fault. A few states offer only no-fault grounds, while others recognize both types. Each state has its own set of grounds for divorce, although they are often quite similar. No matter what, grounds for divorce must be proven before the court will grant you and your spouse a final judgment of divorce.

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