It's Your Fault: What To Know About Fault And Divorce

Many might be under the impression that the advent of so-called no-fault divorces mean that fault is no longer an issue. While all states have a no-fault option for filing divorce, some states still allow fault to be a factor in certain circumstances. Read on to find out more.

It's About the Grounds

In a no-fault divorce, no real grounds are necessary. Each state words this issue differently, with many simply stating the marriage is ending due to irreconcilable differences. In the states that provide an option for a fault divorce, however, the grounds have to be linked to the reason for the party seeking a fault divorce. Take a look at this list of common grounds used in fault divorces; though, keep in mind that they will vary by the state:

  1. Abandonment — Also known as desertion and the time needed for the spouse's absence varies.
  2. Incarceration
  3. Abuse — Either physical or psychological.
  4. Adultery — cheating.
  5. Mental Illness
  6. Substance Abuse
  7. Impotence
  8. Bigamy and other illegal marriages — It should be noted that bigamy along with marrying certain relatives, marrying an under-age person, using deception to marry, and being incapacitated at the wedding constitutes an illegal or invalid marriage in most states and an annulment is the more likely legal action.

Why Use Fault in a Divorce?

The reasons for citing grounds are many and some of them have nothing to do with the legal system. A party, for example, might cite one of the above grounds listed but the underlying reason might have more to do with revenge, anger, or spite. The legal ramifications for the spouse who is found to be at-fault in the divorce can prompt negative rulings with respect to property, debt, child custody, and visitation issues. For example, in a fault divorce, the victim may be more likely to be awarded a greater share of marital property than the other.

Fighting Against Fault

The accused party has little choice but to fight against the fault charges if they don't want to lose property or custody. There are several defenses used by those spouses, including:

  • Condoned — This means the "victim" spouse went along with one of the issues mentioned above. It must be shown that the other spouse did not raise an objection or looked the other way when the spouse cheated, used drugs, imposed physical harm, etc.
  • Connivance — This would be when both parties participated in the same bad acts.
  • Provoked — A party was forced, coerced, or provoked into an act.

If it looks like fault could be an issue in your divorce, speak to a divorce lawyer as soon as possible. For more information, contact a family lawyer.

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