Seventeen states in the US are considered “no-fault states” for divorce. These no-fault divorce states are Wisconsin, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Nebraska, Montana, Missouri, Minnesota, Michigan, Kentucky, Kansas, Iowa, Indiana, Hawaii, Florida, Colorado, and California.
In no-fault states, fault is not required to file for divorce. In other words, to file for divorce, a spouse in a no-fault state does not have to prove that the other spouse did something wrong. No blame is cast in order to demonstrate the motivation for the divorce. Instead, many no-fault divorces are obtained on the grounds of “irreconcilable differences,” for example.
States with No-Fault Divorce
Every state in the US allows no-fault divorce; however, the requirements for getting a no-fault divorce can vary by state. Some states are also “fault states” for divorce, meaning that divorce proceedings can cast blame as the grounds for the divorce.
The laws for no-fault divorce states can vary depending on the state. For example, even in no-fault states, fault can affect the outcome of the divorce. In Florida, adultery can influence the divorce court’s custody decisions. For example, if one parent can successfully prove that the other parent had an affair, this information may affect the judge’s rulings. The judge may decide to reduce the cheating parent’s custody or visitation rights for the couple’s children.
The laws regulating divorce vary by state. In general, it is a good idea to check with a divorce lawyer regarding the specifics of fault or no-fault divorce in your state.
Can I Obtain a Fault Divorce in a No-Fault State?
In general, no. However, in a limited number of cases, it is still possible to file for a divorce on the grounds of fault in a no-fault state. For example, a person seeking a divorce from a mentally incompetent spouse in Colorado can choose to undertake divorce proceedings on these grounds, but the mental state of the spouse in question must be confirmed by a medical professional, or the spouse must be living in a mental institution.
What States are Considered “Fault States” for Divorce?
Thirty-three U.S. states offer persons undergoing a divorce the option of no-fault divorce, but these states can also be considered “fault states” as persons can choose to file for divorce in the traditional way of casting blame. Fault typically includes grounds for divorce including adultery, abandonment, inability to engage in sexual intercourse, being in jail, or cruelty. Cruelty – and more specifically, causing a spouse unneeded pain, whether emotional or physical — is typically the most common grounds for a fault divorce. In a fault state, one or both spouses can be at fault in the separation.
Fault states for divorce are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Vermont, and Virginia. The District of Columbia also offers fault divorce.
Alternatives to “Fault” and “No-Fault” Divorce
Many states also offer a third option, which is a mix between a fault and a no-fault divorce. Many no-fault and fault states offer this option, which is a separation-based divorce. This alternative to fault and no-fault divorce requires spouses seeking legal separation to have lived apart from each other or a period of time.
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