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Faqs About Fault Vs. No-Fault Divorce

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In each state, there is some version of a no-fault divorce available. In those instances, you do not have to cite a reason for divorcing. However, if you live in a state that requires or allows blame to be assigned in a divorce, you have the option of filing a fault divorce. If you are unsure if you should ask for a no-fault or fault divorce, here is what you need to know.

What Are Grounds for Divorce?

In states in which fault-based divorces are allowed, you have to cite the reason or grounds for divorce. In other words, you have to explain to the court why your marriage is ending and why the divorce should be granted.

In your petition, you could cite a number of reasons, including inhumane treatment, abandonment, infidelity, confinement in prison, and separate living arrangements. 

Is There a Benefit to a Fault-Based Divorce?

Citing a reason for the divorce could potentially have an impact on how the court views your case. For instance, if the reason for the divorce is infidelity, a judge might give the innocent spouse a larger share of the marital assets. Even alimony payments could be potentially impacted by naming a reason.

Another potential benefit to filing a fault-based divorce is that you could possibly avoid the separation period that some states require before a divorce is granted. This could dramatically shorten the amount of time that you have to wait for your divorce to be finalized.

What If Both Spouses Are to Blame?

In the event that both spouses have committed actions that contributed to the end of the marriage, it is still possible to cite fault in the filing. In this instance, the judge might rely on comparative rectitude. The judge could decide who is least at fault and offer a more favorable divorce to that person. Whether or not this is possible depends largely on your state's laws.

What If the Guilty Spouse Objects?

If the spouse that is considered to be at fault for the divorce objects to the fault-based divorce, he or she has the right to attempt to convince the court that there is no fault. For instance, if the reason cited was abandonment, the guilty spouse could argue that he or she was forced to leave the home because of the actions of the other spouse.

Determining whether or not a fault-based or no-fault divorce is best is a decision you and your divorce attorney should assess. The divorce attorney can review the state's laws with you and help decide how they apply to your case.