What is No Fault Divorce?

Divorce is hard. With that being said, it does not have to be a nasty fight. In Alabama, you have the right to file for a no-fault divorce. With a no-fault divorce, neither spouse asserts that their partner did anything “wrong” to hurt the marriage. Instead, a no-fault divorce is on the grounds that:

  • There was an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage: and/or
  • There is serious incompatibility between the spouses.

A no-fault divorce can save time, money, and stress. Still, the process has the potential to be complicated. At The Harris Firm, LLC, we have extensive experience with no-fault divorce cases. Here, our Alabama divorce attorney explains what a no-fault divorce is and how the process works.

Background: You Must Have Grounds to File for Divorce

Technically, a divorce is a type of lawsuit. You and your spouse need legal “grounds” to end your marriage. The Alabama State Bar explains that “the basis or cause for which a court may grant a divorce is commonly referred to as a “ground” for divorce.” In other words, the party filing for divorce will have to prove that a divorce is justified. Here is the good news: It is a lot easier than it might sound. In Alabama, you can get divorced on the no-fault grounds that your marriage is no longer wrong. There are both fault and no-fault grounds for divorce in our state.

Know the History: Every State Allows for No-Fault Divorce (But that Was Not Always True)

Many decades ago, the United States only had fault-based divorce. In effect, that means that one spouse would have to prove that the other did something wrong in order to qualify for a divorce. As noted in a study published by the National Council on Family Relations, future President and then Governor Ronald Reagan signed the nation’s first comprehensive no-fault divorce law in the State of California in 1969. Over the next two decades, every state legalized some form of no-fault divorce. Alabama became a no-fault divorce state in the 1970’s. Some U.S. states are now exclusively no-fault divorce jurisdictions. However, other states, including Alabama, currently allow for both no-fault divorces and fault-based divorces.

A No-Fault Divorce is the Most Simple, Common Type of Divorce in Alabama

A no-fault divorce is the most straightforward—and most commonly pursued—type of divorce in Alabama. The approach allows couples to dissolve their marriage without the need to prove misconduct by either party. Opting for a no-fault divorce offers a number of different potential benefits. Among other things, a no-fault divorce in Alabama is typically:

  • Faster than a fault-based divorce;
  • Not as expensive than a fault-based divorce; and
  • Less adversarial than a fault-based divorce.

There are Two Grounds for No-Fault Divorce in Alabama

Many U.S. states have a single available ground for no-fault divorce. However, in Alabama, there are actually two different no-fault grounds upon which you and your spouse can base your divorce:

Irretrievable Breakdown of the Marriage: Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage ground is used to indicate that the relationship has deteriorated beyond repair. It asserts that the issues between the spouses—whatever they might be—are so severe that there is no possibility of reconciliation or repairing the relationship.
Incompatibility of the Spouses: Incompatibility indicates that spouses acknowledge that they can no longer live together harmoniously. It is based on the recognition that their differences are irreconcilable and that continuing the marriage is not feasible. By claiming incompatibility, couples can avoid the blame game and focus on an amicable resolution.

Your Statements are Sufficient to Support Irretrievable Breakdown or Incompatibility

How do you prove an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage and/or incompatibility of the spouses? It is a relatively straightforward thing to do—especially if both spouses already agree that they are ready to move forward with a divorce. In Alabama, when filing for a no-fault divorce on the grounds of either irretrievable breakdown of the marriage or incompatibility of the spouses, it is not necessary to provide detailed evidence or disclose the specifics of personal disputes. Simply stating one of these grounds in your divorce filings is generally sufficient to move forward with the process. The law recognizes these statements as adequate to establish the basis for a divorce.

What if Your Spouse Does Not Agree About Irretrievable Breakdown or Incompatibility?

If your spouse does not agree with the grounds of irretrievable breakdown or incompatibility, you can still pursue a no-fault divorce in Alabama. The law allows for a divorce to proceed based on the assertion of just one spouse that the marriage is broken or that there is an incompatibility. If one spouse contests or denies these grounds, the other spouse’s statement is sufficient to satisfy the requirement for a no-fault divorce. As long as the legal process is properly followed and the filing spouse meets the residency and documentation requirements, the court can grant the divorce on no-fault grounds.

No-Fault Divorce Does Not Mean the Same Thing as an Uncontested Divorce

No-fault divorce and uncontested divorce—while often confused—are actually two distinct concepts. A no-fault divorce means that neither spouse needs to prove wrongdoing by the other to dissolve the marriage. Instead, they cite the aforementioned grounds of irretrievable breakdown or incompatibility. An uncontested divorce, on the other hand, occurs when both spouses agree on all major aspects of the divorce, including property division, child custody, and support arrangements. Most uncontested divorces are no-fault divorces.

All Issues Need to Be Resolved Before You Can Get a No-Fault, Uncontested Divorce

A no-fault, uncontested divorce is generally the best option for couples who are separating in Alabama. It can save time, money, and stress. That being said, before you move forward with an uncontested divorce, you and your spouse must be able to work out all material issues. An attorney can help. Along with other things, an Alabama divorce attorney can help you address:

  • Property Division: Property division in divorce involves allocating the assets and liabilities acquired during the marriage between the spouses. The process is guided by state law. Alabama is an equitable distribution state. The law emphasizes a “fair” division. It may or may not be an even split of the property and debt.
  • Spousal Support (Alimony): Spousal support alimony) is a financial payment made from one spouse to another after a divorce. It is generally intended to prevent economic disparity between the ex-spouses going forward. Though, it is not guaranteed by law in Alabama. Instead, the determination of alimony depends on various factors—such as the duration of the marriage, the standard of living during the marriage, and each spouse’s earning capacity.
  • Child Custody & Visitation: Child custody and visitation rights determine where the children will live after a divorce and how each parent will participate in their lives. Custody can be either sole, where one parent has full legal and physical responsibility, or joint, where both parents share these responsibilities. The court’s primary consideration in deciding custody and visitation is the best interests of the children.
  • Child Support: Child support is a payment made by one parent to another to assist with the expenses involved in raising a child after a divorce. The amount of child support is typically determined by state guidelines that consider the income of both parents, the number of children, and the custody arrangement. The purpose of child support is to ensure that the children maintain a standard of living similar to what they would have experienced had their parent’s marriage not ended.

Get Help From a Divorce Lawyer in Alabama Today

At The Harris Firm, LLC, our Alabama divorce attorney is committed to helping clients find solutions that work. If you have any specific questions about a no-fault divorce case, we are here to help. Call us at (205) 201-1789 or connect with us online for a strictly confidential case evaluation. Our firm provides statement legal representation in no-fault divorce cases in Alabama, including in Mobile, Montgomery, Birmingham, Huntsville, and all communities in between.

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