Extreme cruelty is a type of fault divorce where a spouse claims the other spouse committed some form of physical or mental cruelty against them. Most divorces now are now no-fault divorces, but for the few states that continue allowing fault divorce, extreme cruelty can encompass a wide variety of major and minor factors depending on the statute such as domestic violence, bad credit, yelling, and lack of a job. While this varies greatly by state, a person may choose to pursue an extreme cruelty based divorce because they may receive more property or more easily gain child custody through a fault divorce rather than a no fault divorce. Further, some states require a separation period for no-fault divorces which may not be required for a divorce based on extreme cruelty.
[Last updated in July of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]