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What Is No-Fault Divorce?



A no-fault divorce is a type of divorce proceeding in which there is no requirement that either party demonstrate any wrongful conduct on the part of the other spouse. The party at fault and the nature of the fault are immaterial and need not be identified. In fact, a no-fault divorce does not require any evidentiary proceedings whatsoever.

In a no-fault divorce situation, the family court can grant a divorce in response to either spouse filing a petition for divorce. The party filing the petition for divorce is not required to give any evidence that the other spouse engaged in any wrongful marital conduct or in any way breached the marital relationship. In no-fault divorce situations, the responding spouse is limited in the defenses that he or she can bring to the divorce petition, if that respondent wants to contest the divorce and stay married. No-fault divorces do not require a mediation component.

Living Separate And Apart

A no-fault divorce is granted upon the premise that the spouses are living separate and apart. This means living in separate residences usually and not cohabitating in any physical relationship. If the couple has minor children, then the spouses must be separated for at least one (1) year prior to obtaining the divorce. However, if there are no minor children and the spouses have come to an agreement on their own division of assets and property in a written property settlement agreement, then the waiting period is reduced. In such situations, the waiting period reduces to half the time and becomes only six (6) months.

Irreconcilable Differences

In some jurisdictions, a no-fault divorce is granted based upon specified reasons such as the amorphous concept of irreconcilable differences. Couples seeking this type of divorce need not elaborate or explain what issue or problem is irreconcilable, nor their efforts, if any, to attempt to resolve the matter prior to filing for divorce. The couple simply implies, through filing under this ground for divorce, that they are incompatible and do not wish to remain married due to unspecified differences. The couple also indicates through such a divorce ground that reasonable prospect exists for reconciliation of the marital relationship. In essence, the spouses are communicating to the family court that their marriage is irretrievably broken down and the parties cannot or do not wish to repair it.