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Fault and No-fault divorce

/23 Aug 2019
/By admin

Fault and No-fault divorce Lawyer

Although the concept of fault and no-fault divorce can become difficult to understand due to state specifications, there are certain universal rules and guidelines to follow when taking the larger picture into consideration. First, no-fault divorce is defined as a type of divorce in which the spouse filing for divorce doesn’t necessarily have to prove fault on the part of their significant other. Due to it’s legal nature, a spouse cannot object to a no-fault divorce petition as the ground for objection would constitute a legally “irreconcilable difference”. This is one of the most common justifications for a no-fault divorce. No-fault divorces are recognized in every state, but some states do require that spouses live separate for some time before full divorce. For example: prior to 2016 the state of Illinois had required couples to live apart for a minimum of six months (the standard requirement was initially two years) before becoming divorced as a result of irreconcilable differences. 

In terms of historical context, in the 1950’s, states began progressively moving away from traditional barriers of binding relationships, making no-fault the standing procedure among divorce. This has led to a greater sense of personal freedom for individuals stuck in unsatisfying relationships at the expense of a rapidly increasing divorce rate (in the time period between 1950 and 1980). The changing societal expectations at the time came as a result of a variety of social factors too such as women becoming a stronger presence in the workforce. Divorce had become a more socially accepted aspect of life to match the changing legal environment. In the 1980’s, the divorce rate peaked at over fifty percent. From that point, the rate has slowly declined as couples have begun to further grasp the level of commitment that marriage entails. People nowadays are marrying later in life when their lives have further stabilized.

Fault divorces, on the other hand, are not as common in the states. Most states nowadays no longer recognize them. In the states that do, the most common grounds for which a fault divorce is granted are:

  • Adultery
  • Cruelly (emotional or physical; most frequent)
  • Abandonment for a length of time
  • Prison confinement

When both spouses can convincingly show the other is at fault, the court then decides who is least at fault under a doctrine called “comparative rectitude”. Of course, there is also a variety of ways in which a spouse can challenge a fault divorce. This includes evidence of provocation, recrimination, etc. However, because courts often have an interest in not keeping people married, they are typically lenient to those who ask. This common precedent as well as the costly barriers of legal defense often deter people from attempting defense. Nevertheless, for some, there are still some appealing aspects of fault divorce to consider such as its potential to lead to a larger distribution of marital property for the spouse not at fault. With all this in mind, careful consideration with a divorce lawyer in Arlington, TX is key in determining the right course of action to take when pursuing divorce.

Thanks to Brandy Austin Law Firm, PLLC for their insight into family law and fault and no-fault divorces.