Question: I originally filed a complaint for divorce on the grounds of abandonment. My husband and his lawyer responded with an answer that denied my allegations and “strongly suggested” that I change my grounds to “living separate and apart.” Does it look bad for me to change my grounds, either in the court or in the eyes of the opposing side? My lawyer seems to think it’s normal to change grounds, but I’m still unsure.
Answer: Changing grounds is not a problem as long as you are not asking for support, distribution of assets, or any other type of relief from the court. If you only want a simple divorce without litigation, all the court cares about is whether there are valid grounds. It sounds like your spouse doesn’t want to admit to the grounds you used, probably because it makes him look bad. Living separate and apart is about facts – date of leaving and so on, and is not about a person’s behavior, which makes it easier for some people to admit to. Using a ground for divorce that your husband will admit to will ultimately make things much easier on you. If your husband contests the grounds for divorce, the court will order a grounds trial, which can be emotionally painful and expensive for everyone involved.