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What Is a No-Fault Divorce?


What Is a No-Fault Divorce

You may have heard the terms “fault” and “no-fault” used in the context of a divorce but not been sure what they actually meant or what impact they might have on the divorce process. With a no-fault divorce, the spouse who’s filing for divorce isn’t required to prove that the other spouse is at fault in any way. In most cases, the filing spouse will cite “irreconcilable differences” or “an irreparable breakdown” as the grounds for the divorce. Many people choose to pursue a no-fault divorce because the other spouse can’t object to the divorce (the objection in and of itself could be proof of irreconcilable differences). All states recognize no-fault divorces, but some require spouses to separate for a certain amount of time before either one can proceed with filing for divorce.

With a fault divorce, on the other hand, the spouse who’s filing has to prove that the other spouse is at fault in some way (for example, because he or she committed adultery, abandoned the filing spouse, or inflicted physical or emotional pain on the filing spouse). One of the benefits to pursuing a fault divorce is that it eliminates the separation requirement imposed by some states. Another benefit is that the filing spouse could end up receiving more alimony or a larger portion of the marital property. However, the spouse who isn’t filing for divorce can object to the divorce by disproving the filing spouse’s allegations or by presenting a defense (for example, in cases where adultery is alleged, the spouse who is supposedly at fault could show that the filing spouse asked someone to seduce him or her, thereby setting up the opportunity for the affair). Notably, most states no longer recognize fault divorces.

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