Does cruelty need a pattern of mean acts, or is one act sufficient?
Usually one act of cruelty is sufficient for a claim of fault in divorce. The law did not require persons to stay in marriages in which they were physically harmed, in order to reach a magic number of incidents. However, before
no-fault divorce, many woman endured abusive marriages because they could not find a way to survive without the husband who abused them.
Cruelty, physical or mental, is a legal term that is but the visible part of a dangerous and destructive marital situation. Situations of mental and physical cruelty are often very dangerous for both spouses (although the abusive partner may not know it). The darkly comic movie War of the Roses depicts the tragic consequences of a couple who visit every imaginable form of mental cruelty upon one another as they destroy their marriage and themselves. The movie is an extreme example of a couple pulled in a destructive vortex they cannot abandon nor abide.