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Last Updated on: 1st August 2023, 12:42 am
When your spouse files for divorce, they will need to choose grounds, and the available grounds will vary depending on the state. If you don’t agree with the ground for divorce that your spouse has chosen, they can be changed, provided you both agree to this.
This will only come into play if you live in a state that has fault divorces. Quite a few states only have no-fault divorces, which means the divorce court won’t find either party at fault regardless of the circumstances behind the divorce. In this case, your spouse will need to choose irreconcilable differences as the grounds for divorce (irreconcilable differences is the most common term, although some states use slightly different terms that hold the same meaning).
What to Do If You Want the Grounds for Divorce Modified
If your spouse is filing for a fault divorce, he will have multiple grounds for divorce options available. As mentioned, states set the grounds for divorce and the requirements to meet those grounds. For example, two states could each have abandonment listed as a grounds for divorce, but have different minimum time frames for when an absence qualifies as abandonment.
The most common grounds for divorce that are found in most states include abandonment, adultery, criminal acts, cruelty and mental illness. These are far from the only grounds for divorce, though, and other options include drug or alcohol abuse and sexual issues.
Let’s say that your spouse has chosen grounds for divorce that you don’t agree with. The first thing to do would be to talk to your spouse about it and see if he will agree to change them. Keep in mind that spouses sometimes choose multiple grounds for divorce that fit the situation so there are other grounds to consider if the court rules one out. If you agree to accept one ground, your spouse may drop the rest.
If you don’t want to talk to your spouse directly, you can also have your divorce lawyer get in touch with your spouse’s lawyer to discuss the situation.
Your Leverage in Changing Grounds for Divorce
Even though your spouse is the one filing for divorce, you still have leverage in the situation. When your spouse alleges that you’re at fault for the divorce, the burden of proof is on him. He can’t simply declare that you committed adultery, or abandoned him or inflicted cruelty – he must prove it to the court and demonstrate that it was also the cause of your marriage ending.
Whether your spouse has a valid case or not, fault divorces tend to be much longer and more expensive than no-fault divorces. The only way for a fault divorce to go through is for the court to find in your spouse’s favor or for you to agree that you were at fault.
If you’re willing to admit to being at fault for different grounds than your spouse listed, it’s likely you could make a deal with him. For example, if you don’t feel that you were cruel but will admit to abandoning your spouse, there’s a good chance he’ll modify the grounds. He’ll still get the result he wants, which is you admitting fault, without a lengthy legal battle.
It will likely be more challenging to get your spouse to modify their grounds from grounds that indicate you’re at fault to no-fault grounds. If your spouse files a fault divorce, it may be so he can obtain more favorable terms from the divorce court, which means he’ll have incentive to push the issue.
Figuring Out the Right Strategy
Divorces can be complex, and it’s a good idea to have a qualified divorce lawyer to represent you as you go through the process. If you don’t agree with the grounds for divorce that your spouse chose, your lawyer can give you advice on how to proceed and possibly get those grounds changed. Your lawyer will also be a huge help when negotiating.
The good news is that you don’t need to accept any grounds that you don’t like. By holding out, your spouse may agree to modify the grounds to avoid going to trial, even if it means switching to no-fault grounds. Should your divorce go to trial, your spouse must prove his allegations, and you’ll have the opportunity to provide a defense.
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