Top 7 Grounds for Divorce 2023 (guide + examples)

What are the grounds for divorce?

The grounds for divorce are the reasons that act as justification as to why you should divorce your wife or husband.

Here you will learn everything you need to know about grounds for divorce including;

  • Divorce in Bible
  • What is Divorce?
  • Why you should divorce your wife or Husband
  • Grounds for divorce
  • etc.

Let’s get started!

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Divorce in Bible

In the bible, there is a story where Jesus when into the region of Judea, beyond the Jordan River while teaching the gathered crowds, some Pharisees went and test him by asking “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?

He answered them “what did Moses command you?”

They said “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her”

but Jesus said to them, “He wrote this commandment for you because of your hard hearts. But from the beginning of creation God made male and female for this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and the two will become one flesh. Therefore God has joined them together let no one separate them.”

You can read this story in Mark 10.

What is Divorce?

Blacks Law Dictionary 8th Edition defines divorce as the ‘legal dissolution of a marriage by a court.’

Why you should divorce your wife or Husband

A marriage can only come to an end by a divorce decree issued by Court and not otherwise.

However, courts are not there to break your marriage but to protect it.

So to seek a divorce before a court of law might not be an easy task, nevertheless, the court cannot force you to live with the person whom you don’t wish to live with.

Therefore you need strong ground(s) to persuade the court to decide in your favor.

The only ground/test that the court applies to decide whether to grant a divorce or not is that ‘YOUR MARRIAGE HAS BEEN BROKEN DOWN IRREPARABLE.’

That simply means that you can’t proceed with that marriage.

So when you petition for divorce you must convince the court in respect of that ground/test.

Thus you must produce evidence that proves that your marriage has been broken down irreparably.

The normal wear and tear of your marriage cannot amount to divorce.

see:  Petition for divorce ultimate overview and sample

Grounds for divorce

The only ground/test that the court applies to decide whether to grant a divorce or not is that ‘YOUR MARRIAGE HAS BEEN BROKEN DOWN IRREPARABLE.’ thus the court may accept any one or more of the following matters as evidence that a marriage has broken down beyond repair.

  1. Adultery
  2. Cruelty
  3. Desertion
  4. Separation
  5. Imprisonment
  6. Mental illness
  7. Change of religion


Adultery simply means voluntary sexual intercourse between a man, single or married, and a married woman not his wife.

This serves as evidence that your marriage has broken down especially when you have facts that show that your wife or husband has associated him/herself in adultery and you find it intolerable to live with him/her.

The possible ways of proving adultery before the court of law are through adducing pictures or videos of the adultery scenes, the birth of the child as a result of the adultery, a confession statement, living with another partner, and sometimes circumstantial evidence may be useful.


This is serious! What amount to cruelty is not certain; this depends on the circumstances of your case but any act or omission which causes danger to the life or health of you or your children is considered to be cruelty.

Also, threats of future danger amount to cruelty.

Regarding divorce, the court accepts both mental and physical cruelty.

However, in most cases, mental or physiological cruelty might be hard to identify.


Desertion is the separation of one spouse from the other with the intention of the deserting spouse to bring cohabitation permanently to an end without reasonable cause and without the consent of the other spouse.

It may occur when there is a voluntary cessation of matrimonial duties and obligations e.g. sexual intercourse, not taking care of your family without any reasonable cause, and in most cases where a spouse voluntarily and without reasonable cause leaves the other spouse against his or her will.

Generally, desertion takes two forms;-

  1. Physical desertion is where one spouse physically leaves the matrimonial home with the intention of not returning again.
  2. Constructive desertion is where one spouse conduct in a manner that causes another spouse to live in a matrimonial home.

In desertion, you must prove that your spouse has an unreasonable left matrimonial home or has caused you to move, with the intention of not coming back again.

The intention, lack of reasonable cause, and physical separation is the key to desertion.


It can be voluntary separation among spouses or separation by decree of the court. Generally, separation brings a union at the end for a specific time.

It enables a spouse to settle their differences.

During separation, the spouse remains dully married.

Sometimes during separation reconciliation fails and when a spouse lives separately for a long time (at least three years) becomes good that the marriage has broken down.

See this sample of the Deed of Separation for more insights


This serves as evidence that your marriage has broken down beyond repair when your spouse has been imprisoned for life or for a term not less than five (5) years.

On this ground, courts consider the nature of the offense from which the sentence was imposed.

Mental Illness

The condition of this evidence is that it requires doctors to certify that the spouse who suffers from mental illness has no hope of cure or recovery. Otherwise, it will not serve you.

Change of  religion

This may serve as evidence that marriage has broken down irreparable where both spouses followed the same faith at the time of the marriage and later one spouse changes his/her religion and where according to the laws of that faith a change of religion dissolves or is a ground for the dissolution of marriage.

read also: what is Void and voidable marriage?

Final remarks

Generally, it is advisable that when it comes to marriage issues, divorce should be used as a last resort.

In case of any trouble in your marriage first, you should seek help through other means like discussing your issues in family or clan meetings, going to marriage reconciliation bodies, sticking to your religious teaching about marriage, voluntary separation while finding a solution, etc. in case, all means proved futile then you can go for a divorce.

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Isack Kimaro
Isack Kimaro

Holder of Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) and Post Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice. I am dedicated to providing valuable and easy-to-understand legal information for individuals at all levels of understanding. Whether you are a layperson looking to increase your knowledge, a law student striving to excel in your studies, or a practicing lawyer wanting to expand your expertise, I am here to help. I'm not creating content, I'm creating awareness to empower you to take control of your legal understanding and achieve your goals.