What separates a fault divorce from a no-fault divorce? Fault divorces require that the spouse who is asking the court for a divorce allege and prove that the other spouse ruined the marriage and made the relationship unsalvageable. No-fault divorces are straightforward and only require that the party seeking a divorce state that there are irreconcilable differences that make the relationship unsustainable. No allegation of abuse, neglect, abandonment, or other similar misconduct is necessary or required.
What are the advantages of a fault divorce? The biggest advantage is that fault divorces typically have different financial consequences than no-fault divorces. In a fault divorce, a high income spouse who successfully proves that their spouse cheated on them may not need to pay alimony or other spousal support costs. The downsides to a fault divorce? They are extremely expensive, time consuming, and require the aggrieved party to prove some pretty bitter facts that are likely to be the subject of some serious contention.
State laws vary and a number of states recognize both fault and no-fault grounds for divorce. Generally speaking, states that grant fault divorces will do so because one party can prove that the other spouse is addicted to drugs, is infected with a STD, is mentally unsound, is in prison for a long period of time, engaged in a pattern of abuse, abandoned the spouse, or committed adultery.
No-fault divorces are easier to get because there is no need to prove such hostile facts. A no-fault divorce can be granted on grounds as simple as "irreconcilable differences" or because the spouses lived apart from one another for too long. Most states will allow no-fault divorces to be granted immediately and will waive any traditional waiting period or requirement.
What happens when both parties are at fault? This happens more than you might think and it requires the court to decide who is mostly to blame for the divorce. Under the concept of "comparative rectitude," a court will consider both parties' misconduct when deciding whether the divorce should be granted and, if it should, what type of liabilities each party should bear. Even fault divorce states recognize that there are times where both parties are unwilling to remain married and uncommitted to the relationship. Little is gained by compelling these people to stay together and courts will oblige their request to dissolve the marriage.
A family law attorney from a place like The Healy Law Firm can help parties identify recognized defenses to fault divorces and can ensure that the proper calculations are used to assess and award.