Does a Spouse Stealing Money Qualify for a Divorce?

By Heather Frances J.D.

It may be time for a divorce if you catch your spouse stealing money, but a court cannot grant your divorce unless you meet specific legal requirements. These requirements vary by state. Generally, you can divorce your spouse if you simply do not get along anymore, even if the reason is based on his theft.

It may be time for a divorce if you catch your spouse stealing money, but a court cannot grant your divorce unless you meet specific legal requirements. These requirements vary by state. Generally, you can divorce your spouse if you simply do not get along anymore, even if the reason is based on his theft.

Grounds

Each state's laws describe a set of grounds, or reasons, for divorce in that state. Therefore, your reasons for divorce must match at least one of your state's grounds before you can get a divorce. Typically, stealing is not grounds for divorce, meaning your divorce court will not give you a divorce simply because your spouse was caught stealing from you or someone else. But that does not mean you will not be able to get a divorce. If your situation fits another of your state's grounds, you generally can still get a divorce.

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No-Fault Grounds

Spouses who do not get along can generally file for divorce on no-fault grounds and neither spouse has to prove any wrongdoing. Often, no-fault divorces are based on the idea of irreconcilable differences between the spouses or an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, meaning the spouses literally cannot get along anymore or resolve their differences. For example, New Jersey law allows spouses to divorce if their irreconcilable differences caused the breakdown of their marriage for at least six months and there's no reasonable prospect of reconciliation. Generally, the only proof required for this type of divorce is one spouse's testimony in court to confirm the couple has such differences.

Fault-Based Grounds

In addition to no-fault grounds, states have a list of fault-based grounds which vary by state. These grounds may include adultery, desertion, cruelty or abuse, addiction, impotence, imprisonment or mental illness. Theft or a criminal history generally does not qualify for a fault-based divorce, though you may be able to use imprisonment grounds if your spouse was thrown in jail for theft. If you choose to file on fault grounds, you must prove facts that support your accusations.

Consideration of Fault

Your divorce court may be able to consider your spouse's misconduct whether or not you file for divorce based on that misconduct. However, the court's ability to consider misconduct varies by state. For example, Texas courts can consider fault when making property and alimony decisions -- even when the divorce is based on no-fault grounds. If your spouse stole money from you to support a girlfriend or an addiction, your divorce court may award you a greater share of marital property to replace the stolen and wasted money.

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The 12 Grounds for a Divorce in Mississippi

References

Related articles

Is Impotence Grounds for Divorce?

Impotence is a traditional ground for divorce and it remains on the books in many states that still allow fault as well as no-fault divorces. State law governs divorce, and the treatment of impotence as grounds for divorce varies widely. Some states require that a spouse be impotent at the time the couple married, while others allow a divorce if impotence occurred during the marriage. Some laws require that impotence be permanent to grant a divorce, a tough claim to prove in an era of medical advances in treatment for sexual dysfunction.

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.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Divorce for Adultery in New York?

In New York, just as in other states, the time required to get a divorce depends much more on whether you and your spouse can reach an agreement than on your grounds. This isn't to say that your grounds for divorce won't affect the timeline, however. If you file for divorce on grounds of adultery, it will probably necessitate a trial, so your divorce will take longer.

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