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By the time a couple decides to divorce there have likely been tense conversations and various rounds of blame-game play to identify the marriage's point-of-no-return. In the midst of going different directions, is it better to file for a fault or no-fault divorce?
A fault divorce is granted in instances when at least one spouse requests a divorce based on fault and where one of the required grounds is present. Fault-based divorces are not available in all states.
Filing for divorce on the basis of fault can help a couple sidestep any state law requiring a period of separation before filing for no-fault divorce. Also, in states in which proving fault affects the status of marital property or alimony, citing a fault may enable the non-faulting party to receive more from the divorce settlement.
Common grounds for fault-based divorces include:
- Cruelty - inflicting unnecessary emotional or physical pain
- Abandonment or desertion
- Confinement in prison for defined number of years
- Physical inability to consummate marriage, if not disclosed before marriage
The non-filing party can prevent a fault-based divorce from being filed by proving to the court that he or she is not at fault.
In no-fault divorces, neither party is blamed for the unraveling of the marriage. In some states a couple must live apart for a period of time, usually months, before filing for a no-fault divorce.
All states offer the option for filing for no-fault divorce.
A no-fault divorce cannot be contested or stopped by the non-filing party.
Citing "irreconcilable differences" is a common ground for no-fault divorce. It does not point to either individual's fault. Another common basis cited for no-fault divorce is "irretrievable marriage breakdown."