The Difference Between Fault Divorce and No-Fault Divorce

Whether the “I do’s” were just a couple of years ago or you just celebrated your thirtieth wedding anniversary, going through a divorce is a strenuous time. Figuring out who will move out, who will take custody of any children or belongings, how money will be split is all part of the process. In some states, who is at fault for the divorce has an impact on the payment of alimony or distribution of assets, according to Robinson & Henry, PC. Here are the differences in fault divorce and no-fault divorce.

The Difference Between Fault Divorce and No-Fault Divorce

Fault Divorce

A fault divorce will only be granted if certain conditions were present in the marriage.

  • Cruelty – causing needless physical or emotional pain
  • adultery
  • desertion for an extended time (length varies by state)
  • incarceration (length varies by state)
  • physical incapability to have sexual intercourse (if unknown at time of marriage)
  • substance abuse

Not all states allow fault divorces and not all of the above conditions will qualify a spouse to obtain a fault divorce. In fault divorces, the couple does not need to spend a specific amount of time apart. However, in a few states, couples with covenant marriages are required to file for fault divorces and must undergo marital counseling. There is still no required separation time but the waiting period for finalization may be longer.

Fault divorces are more likely to require the help of a divorce attorney since there is generally more resentment and anger which can lead to issues when property, finances, and child custody are divided.

No-Fault Divorces

All states allow no-fault divorces. In this type of divorce, one spouse does not have to prove that the other did anything wrong. Each state has a reason or set of reasons that allow for people to get no-fault divorces:

  • irreconcilable differences
  • irremediable breakdown of the marriage
  • Separated for a period of time

Each state requires that couples live apart for months to years, depending on the state. While no-fault divorces are usually uncontested, hiring a divorce attorney can help to make the process smoother and guarantee that assets are divided fairly. They can also assist with arranging child custody agreements, a topic that may need reviewing every few years until the child turns 18.

Related: Which States Are No-Fault Divorce States?

Whether you are trying to place blame in order to gain a more favorable division of assets or you and your spouse are both ready to be single again, a divorce attorney will best be able to assist you in finding out what is available in your state. Divorce is a tough event but it is also the starting point of a new chapter.