Where no-fault divorce is not permitted, contested divorces are more common. Some states require that a party seeking a divorce must specify the reason(s) or ground(s) for the divorce.
These reasons vary from state to state, but may include adultery, abandonment or desertion, the imprisonment of a spouse, habitual drunkenness or drug use, and habitual cruelty by one spouse to the other. Often the spouse complained against contests or denies the grounds for divorce as specified in the complaint.Contested divorces are usually substantially more expensive than uncontested divorces.
Even where grounds are required for a divorce, state laws often permit a divorce petition to allege 'irreconcilable differences', 'irremediable breakdown' or other similar terms. This allegation may be included as an alternative ground to other listed grounds. The result of this alternative pleading is that a party, against whom evidence of fault is strong, will often agree to the less onerous finding of irreconcilable differences or irremediable breakdown.