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mental cruelty

n. a term, rapidly going out of fashion and out of the statutes, which has been used to justify granting a divorce when the state laws required that some wrong had to be found in the defending spouse. In absence of actual physical cruelty (or unwillingness to discuss it) the person wanting the divorce could testify to a list of indignities ("he swore at me, he came home late, he humiliated me in front of friends, he was hateful to my mother, he read girlie magazines," or similar tales told about the wife) which would be verified by a relative or a friend to satisfy the judge that the petitioning spouse would suffer mental harm if the marriage continued and proved that there were grounds for a divorce. As "no-fault" divorce has gained favor, such charades have faded into legal history.

See also: cruelty  divorce 

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The People's Law Dictionary by Gerald and Kathleen Hill Publisher Fine Communications

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