Atlanta-Based Attorney at Law

Harmon Caldwell

“My goal in every case is to obtain the best possible result for the client.”

Harmon Caldwell has practiced divorce and family law in Atlanta for 41 years. He has been repeatedly recognized as one of the best trial lawyers in Georgia. He has handled over a thousand contested divorce cases, he has tried over a hundred and fifty jury cases in communities throughout the state, and he has been involved in more than 70 cases in the Georgia appellate courts.

What Are “Grounds For Divorce?”

Posted on April 24, 2015

To be granted a divorce, a person must specify the circumstances of why they are seeking a divorce. As divorce laws are dictated by individual states, grounds for divorce also differ from state to state.

Citing grounds for divorce is much easier today than it was earlier in U.S. history when fault had to be proven. Today, every state has adopted a form of “no fault” divorce, which means neither party is to be blamed for the failure of the marriage. The first state that implemented a no fault statute was California in 1969 and New York was the final state in 2010 to enact no fault legislation.

Critics of No Fault

Though many couples and lawyers see the no fault grounds as liberating, especially for women and children, the concept has more than its fair share of critics. People attribute no fault to weakening the sanctity of marriage and have attributed it as a cause for the high divorce rate. New York was the last state to approve no fault because legislators were worried it would weaken one party’s ability to gain leverage in divorce because there was no issue of fault.

On the other hand, an equal number believe “no fault” assists many women who would have been otherwise trapped in unhappy marriages, helps children to be raised in a better environment than in an unhappy home and results in the least amount of conflict.

The 13 Grounds for Divorce in Georgia

In Georgia, there are 13 grounds for divorce. One of those grounds is categorized as no fault and the other 12 grounds are defined as fault. Those grounds are:

  • The marriage is irretrievably broken (No Fault)
  • Intermarriage by persons within prohibited degrees of consanguinity or affinity (linked to Georgia’s definition of incest)
  • Mental incapacity
  • Impotency
  • Fraud in obtaining the marriage
  • Pregnancy of the wife by a man other than the husband, during the marriage, unbeknownst to the husband
  • Adultery
  • Willful and continued desertion for one year
  • Imprisonment for longer than two years
  • Habitual intoxication
  • Cruel treatment
  • Incurable mental illness
  • Drug addiction

Other states have more odd grounds for divorce including “attempting to end (?) the life of the other by poison or other means showing malice” in Illinois and getting married on a dare in Delaware.

My Divorce Cases

In a divorce case, I always begin with the plain vanilla of options – “irretrievably broken” – the no fault option. If needed, I can always go back and add additional grounds for divorce if the need arises. However, in 99 percent of divorce cases, this is the sole cited reason for divorce. As stated before, it helps resolve the case with the least amount of conflict.

Whatever the reason, if you feel as if your marriage should end, give me a call and we can discuss the best way to proceed.