A no-fault divorce is a divorce in which neither spouse blames the other for the breakdown of the marriage. Instead, the marriage ends because of another reason, such as irreconcilable differences between the spouses or a lack of willingness to make the marriage work. A no-fault divorce may also occur when the spouses have been legally separated for an extended period of time before mutually deciding to get a divorce.
Every state allows no-fault divorces, but the laws may vary slightly depending on the state. For example, in states that don’t accept “irreconcilable differences” as grounds for divorce, it is still possible to file for a no-fault divorce based on separation.
When filing the paperwork for a no-fault divorce, one spouse simply needs to give a reason for wanting the divorce that their specific state recognizes. Typically, states will grant a no-fault divorce for the following reasons:
- Irreconcilable differences – anything from a lack of trust to irreparable financial problems can constitute grounds for a no-fault divorce.
- Incompatibility – this often occurs when one or both spouses do not interact or communicate with one another and are thus considered incompatible.
- Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage – a common case for this is when either spouse is unwilling to live with the other and there is no chance of them reconciling.
If one or both spouses request a dissolution of their marriage on any of these grounds, the court will usually grant it without further inquiry into any underlying reasons. In some states, it is required for the married couple to be separated for one or two years prior to the divorce. Additionally, one or both spouses must be a resident of the state in which they file.
What is a fault divorce?
Unlike a no-fault divorce, a fault divorce is where either spouse casts blame on the other for the failure of their marriage. Common reasons for a fault divorce include:
- Separation or abandonment
- Verbal, physical or emotional abuse
- Criminal conviction
- Mental illness
- Other conflicts
Fault divorces are usually more complicated, lengthier and costlier than no-fault divorces.
No-fault divorce: contested vs. uncontested
A contested divorce is essentially what happens when the spouses cannot agree on the divorce terms. In this case, even a no-fault divorce can become contested. When this happens, the case may go to court to be resolved. In some cases, the spouses may be able to avoid court and instead resolve things with an attorney or mediator.
An uncontested divorce is where both spouses can reach a consensus on the divorce terms without the need for court hearings. Many no-fault divorces are also uncontested. For example, when getting an uncontested divorce in Birmingham the reason most local lawyers put for the decline of the marriage is almost always a no fault one since it makes the process simpler.
Why is a no-fault divorce so cheap?
No-fault divorce is, by nature, a less expensive alternative to a fault divorce. This is because no-fault divorces rarely require court hearings, much less a trial.
When a divorce case does go to court, as with fault divorces, it can cost thousands of dollars. If there are multiple hearings, the divorce could cost upwards of $20,000.
With a no-fault divorce, things are usually a little more amicable and easier to settle. Even if one or both spouses are dissatisfied with the divorce terms, they can often reach an agreement without going to court. Coming to an agreement outside of court means saving a lot of time and money. Most no-fault uncontested divorces can be fairly inexpensive relative to the costs of a contested divorce.
Should you file for a no-fault divorce?
It depends on why you’re filing and what you hope to get out of it. A no-fault divorce may be the right option if you and your spouse have irreconcilable differences or are no longer compatible as partners but neither of you place the blame on each other.
With this option, you could save thousands of dollars and months of headache. If in doubt, consult a family law attorney to discuss your options.
Attorney Steven A. Harris regularly blogs in the areas of family law, bankruptcy, and real estate closings on this website. He is always available in any of the firm’s offices or by phone anytime for a consultation. Mr. Harris tries to provide informative information to the public in easily digestible formats. Hopefully you enjoyed this article and feel free to supply any feedback. We appreciate our readers and love to hear from you!