Who’s At Fault? Understanding Fault And No-Fault Divorces

Many couples no longer need to assign fault to get divorced. All states offer some form of a no-fault option to those who want a quicker and less-stressful way to get untangled from each other. However, there are some states that still provide couples with the option to pursue fault in a divorce. Read on to learn a bit more about what happens with a no-fault and a fault divorce.

No-fault Divorces

All states allow this type of parting, but they may be called by different names in different locales. The main point of a no-fault divorce is to part ways by mutual agreement. Some states don't offer anything but no-fault divorces. The wording used varies, but you might find the phrases "irreconcilable differences" or "irretrievably broken" in the divorce decree. Phrasing of this sort is what might stand for grounds if the couple makes the no-fault choice.

Fault Divorces

This type of divorce is somewhat of a holdover from the days when it was thought to protect a wronged female spouse. Even though spouses of both sexes are free to earn money nowadays, there are still situations where the spouse who chose to stay at home to care for children might lack the financial resources to earning a living. Naming the faults of the spouse is a manner of helping the wronged spouse recover from the divorce financially. It's also an attempt to punish the spouse that was accused of doing something wrong. The wrongs in this instance usually include one or more of the following:

  • Adultery: Consensual sexual relations when at least one person is legally married.
  • Cruelty: The infliction of mental or physical harm in an intentional manner.
  • Abandonment or desertion: When one spouse leaves (the home and the situation) without the agreement or consent of the other party. Some states require that the abandonment exists for a certain period of time.

Fault and Its Ties to Other Divorce Issues

As mentioned above, fault has a direct tie to important issues like child custody, visitation, spousal support, property and debt divisions, and more. Not all states allow marital misconduct to influence decisions about the above issues, but many do. It should be noted that alleging fault require a lot more time in court. You must be able to prove the fault exists; mere allegations won't do.

Be sure to speak to your divorce attorney about the fault or no-fault issue and learn what method will be best for your situation. For more information, check out websites like http://madisonlf.com.