Also found in: Dictionary, Medical.
A course of conduct on the part of one spouse toward the other spouse that can endanger the mental and physical health and efficiency of the other spouse to such an extent as to render Continuance of the marital relation intolerable. As a ground for Divorce, it is conduct that causes embarrassment, humiliation, and anguish so as to render life miserable and unendurable or to cause a spouse's life, person, or health to become endangered.
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: divorce, cruelty)