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Patricia Arquette Files for Divorce from Thomas Jane

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By Tanya Roth, Esq. on August 19, 2010 2:38 PM

Another Hollywood marriage has met its all but inevitable fate: Patricia Arquette, of the Hollywood Arquettes, and actor Thomas Jane are divorcing. Arquette is seeking custody of their daughter Harlow and hopes not to have to pay spousal support to Jane. They have been married since 2006.

According to People, the reported elements of the Arquette / Jane dissolution are fairly basic. Arquette is asking for custody but will allow visitation to Jane. There are no details reported on any particular fights over division of martial assets other than the potential tussle over spousal support.

The divorce papers are reported to site "irreconcilable differences" as the reason for the split. This statement is also de rigueur, but we might ask, what does this really mean?

One definition of "irreconcilable differences" is, "The existence of significant differences between a married couple that are so great and beyond resolution as to make the marriage unworkable, and for which the law permits a divorce." It is not the definition, however, but the legal use that is of practical importance. "Irreconcilable differences" is one of the reasons parties may use in filing for a no-fault divorce.

Once upon a time, married couples who wished to un-couple had to legally blame at least one party for the failure of the marriage. Some states still have this "fault" option for divorce. The usual reasons cited in fault divorces include: cruelty (inflicting unnecessary emotional or physical pain), adultery, desertion for a specified length of time, confinement in prison for a set number of years, or physical inability to engage in sexual intercourse (if it was not disclosed before marriage). In states with both a fault and no-fault option, there is sometimes a waiting period for a no-fault divorce, so a fault-based action can be an option. Unlike no-fault, a fault-based divorce can also be contested by a protesting party.

No-fault divorce has been described as giving more dignity to the action, as the need for blame or recrimination (often a natural part of the process in any case) is left out of the legal paperwork. A no-fault divorce cites a few basic reasons for the separation such as incompatibility, irreconcilable differences, or irremediable breakdown of the marriage and allows the parties focus their energies on custody and property division.

Until recently, very recently, nearly all states allowed the option of no-fault divorce. The one state that did not was New York. However, as of this week, Governor Patterson signed the New York no-fault divorce into law, now making it available in all 50 states.

Arquette and Jane will have no trouble in securing their no-fault-er. No-fault divorce has been the law in California since 1969.

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