What Is a No-Fault Divorce?

by Team eLocal
Freelance hands signs divorce papers at night

Navigating a divorce can be challenging and charged with emotions. However, it's important to understand your divorce options fully, including the differences between a fault and no-fault divorce.

The divorce type can affect the length of the process, costs and your ability to object if you're on the receiving end of divorce papers.

What Is a No-Fault Divorce?

A no-fault divorce means the person who files for divorce can simply state the reason that the marriage is over without proving that the other person did anything to break the marriage contract. This route can be more private because you don't have to disclose intimate details about your marriage in court to prove why divorce is warranted.

However, the person who is served divorce papers can't object to the divorce petition. Some states require that you and your spouse separate for a set amount of time before filing for divorce. Once you file for a no-fault divorce, the process is usually faster than a fault divorce.

How Is It Different Than a Fault Divorce?

In a fault divorce, the person who files for divorce has to prove that their spouse did something that caused the marriage to end. This might include things like adultery, cruelty, abandonment or prison confinement. If the person filing chooses a fault divorce, their spouse can challenge the grounds for divorce, which can effectively stop the proceedings.

Fault divorces tend to take longer and cost more money because you have to prove what your spouse did. However, you can typically file for a fault divorce immediately once your spouse does something wrong, even if you haven't been separated. Not all states allow fault divorces, so check with a divorce lawyer to learn about your options.

In What States Can You Get a No-Fault Divorce?

All states allow for no-fault divorces. States sometimes differ in the terminology or grounds for divorce. Common grounds for a no-fault divorce include irreconcilable differences, incompatibility and irreparable breakdown of the marriage. They all essentially mean the same thing — that the marriage has broken down and the spouses can no longer get along.

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