The Difference Between Fault and No-Fault Divorce

Couples seeking a divorce have options when it comes to filing. Some states only offer a no-fault designation, while others allow couples also to seek a fault-based divorce.

If you are considering a divorce, you may want to understand better why choosing a route for divorce matters and the benefits of talking with a divorce lawyer, like from the Law Office of Daniel Wright, about your best options. Take a look at some of the differences a fault and no-fault divorce filing may entail so you can decide the course works best for you.

What Is a No-Fault Divorce?

In some marriages, things fall apart without any kind of event spurring them on. If you and your spouse drifted apart over the years, for example, neither one of you played an active or direct role in the demise of the marriage. When it comes time to file the petition for divorce, you must put down the reason for the marriage ending. In a no-fault filing, the reason for divorce is simply that the marriage is broken and cannot be repaired. In some states, the court accepts this as a grounds for proceeding with the divorce.

What Are Examples of Fault?

Some couples have issues that go beyond growing apart. If you or your spouse have done something to force the marriage to end, one or the other may choose a fault-based divorce. Even if you are not the one who files for divorce, in your response, you can explicitly state why the marriage ended and if your spouse is to blame. This type of divorce path can be more complicated, depending on the reasons chosen. In some states, you may select from the following:

  • Infidelity
  • Domestic violence
  • Conviction of a crime
  • Abandonment lasting for a year or more
  • Bigamy

Why Choose Fault Over No-Fault?

When deciding to choose a fault-based divorce, you must be prepared to provide proof of your allegation. Failure to do so will result in the divorce not being granted without substantial modification. There may be some advantages to a fault-based finding, however. A judge may use allegations of misconduct, such as infidelity, when deciding whether to award spousal support and the amount. If your spouse cheated and you can prove it, you may not get more in terms of property, but you may get a bump up in alimony.

The path for divorce is rarely easy, even if the marriage ended on mutual terms. You may find it helpful to consult with a family lawyer before filing for divorce. Their expertise can aid in getting you through the process.