Frequently Asked Questions (“FAQ”)
on the Grounds for Divorce
Q: Can One Spouse Get a Divorce Because They Do Not Want the Marriage to Continue?
A: Each state has its own laws determining when and under what circumstances a divorce can be sought and granted. In some states, both sides can agree to get a divorce with only a brief waiting period. Other states have laws that claim to permit a divorce only if there are “grounds”, meaning that the divorce is one spouse’s “fault”.
Q: What is the Difference Between a "Fault" and a "No Fault" Divorce?
A: Some states allow termination of marital status on both a basis of fault and on the basis of no fault. Grounds for “fault” include: adultery, physical or mental cruelty, desertion, alcohol or drug abuse, insanity, impotence or infecting the other spouse with a venereal disease. The respective rights to distribution of property and spousal support can affect a spouse’s fault in causing the breakdown of the marriage. In a “no fault” dissolution of marriage, a declaration by one spouse of the marriage that irreconcilable differences have arisen that neither time nor counseling will cure, is enough grounds for a court to end the marriage and return the former spouses to the legal status of unmarried persons. In a “no fault” divorce or dissolution of marriage, the actions of the respective spouses in the breakdown of the marriage do not affect property distribution or spousal support rights.
Q: What is a "Fault" Divorce?
A: A “fault” divorce is one in which one party blames the other for the failure of the marriage, by citing wrongdoing. Grounds for “fault” can include: adultery, physical or mental cruelty, desertion, alcohol or drug abuse, insanity, impotence or infecting the other spouse with a venereal disease.
Q: I Live in a State That Makes it Hard to Get a Divorce, By Requiring Serious Fault. What Can I Do?
A: Under many circumstances it would be possible to change your house to a different state that has “no-fault” divorce, or has more liberal grounds, and file for divorce in that state.
Q: Will the Division of Property and Potential Spousal Support Affect Whether I Get a “Fault” or “No Fault” Divorce?
A: That depends on the state. In some states, the court can consider the spouses’ faults in deciding how to distribute property and provide spousal support. In a no fault divorce situation, the actions of the spouses in the breakdown of the marriage do not affect property distribution or spousal support rights. Again, an attorney is vital to represent your best interests in the division of property in the dissolution of a marriage.
Q: Can You Raise a Defense Against “Fault” Grounds?
A: Yes, fault grounds can become contested. The party bringing the action, the one making the allegation, must prove the truth of the allegation. The other spouse can rebut that allegation as in any other legal trial.
Q: What Happens When Both Parties are At-Fault in a Divorce?
A: The divorce will become denied, if the “fault” grounds are of equal grounds, such as cruelty and desertion. They may have to resort to a “no-fault” ground after the requisite period of time. If the grounds are unequal, such as adultery and desertion, the party with the higher ground, adultery may prevail on the divorce.