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extreme cruelty

n. an archaic requirement to show infliction of physical or mental harm by one of the parties to his/her spouse to support a judgment of divorce or an unequal division of the couple's property. All states except Illinois and South Dakota recognize "no fault" divorces, but in some states evidence of cruelty may result in division of property favoring the suffering spouse (victim).

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