What Is a No-Fault Divorce?

by LegalFix
Posted: November 24, 2022
no-fault divorce

Up to 50% of marriages end in divorce or permanent separation, and the sheer stress of separation can contribute to countless physical and emotional health problems. But although divorce is emotionally challenging, it's possible to have a healthy breakup without blaming each other.

Getting a no-fault divorce (as opposed to a fault divorce) may help you end your marriage without pointing fingers. Let’s discuss how a no-fault divorce works and how you can get one. 

What Is a No-Fault Divorce?

A no-fault divorce allows couples to end their marriages without placing blame on either partner for the breakup of the marriage. It's the simplest path to divorce based on "irreconcilable differences,"—meaning you don't have to prove your spouse is at fault for the breakup of the marriage to be granted a divorce. 

Before the 1970s, married couples had to provide an acceptable reason for ending their marriage, referred to as "the grounds for divorce." However, in 1969, Governor General Ronald Reagan signed California's first no-fault divorce bill. 

 Today, more than 17 states across the U.S. offer pure no-fault divorces, including Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. However, all states recognize at least a variation of no-fault divorces, such as divorce on the grounds of "separation." 

 Typically, states allow you to file a no-fault divorce for one of the following reasons: 

  • Irreconcilable differences 

  • Irreparable marriage breakdown

  • No compatibility

No-Fault Divorce vs. Fault Divorce

A no-fault divorce helps couples get divorced without proving fault—allowing spouses to move on without feeling bitter. In contrast, a fault divorce involves providing evidence to prove your spouse did something to cause the failure of the marriage. 

States have various fault grounds, including adultery, substance or alcohol abuse, felony convictions, and abandonment. However, in a no-fault divorce, you don't have to claim or prove your spouse mistreated you or behaved inappropriately. 

Why File a No-Fault Divorce?

Most no-fault states require couples to separate and live apart for two to five years before filing for divorce. But filing under the grounds of irreparable marriage or disagreements allows partners to focus on the positives of the divorce instead of playing the blame game. 

There are several potential benefits of opting for a no-fault divorce: 

  • Promotes an Amicable Atmosphere - Civilly initiating a divorce sets the tone for the remaining procedure. Conversely, allocating the blame creates a hostile environment where both parties get hurt. 

  • Less Stressful for You and the Children - In a fault divorce, you must worry about gathering evidence and defending yourself. But ending a marriage on a less confrontational note eases the burden of proof and helps prevent your children from having to pick sides. 

  • Reduces Legal Fees - No-fault divorces may reduce the need for contentious court proceedings by eliminating the need to prove the other party is at fault.

How to Get a No-Fault Divorce

In many states, you may file for a no-fault divorce by visiting your state government's website and completing the form. To qualify, you typically only have to provide your name, address, and marriage certificate. 

If only one spouse submits a no-fault divorce filing, the court will send a copy to the other spouse. After that, the court should send a confirmation receipt within 14 days, for example. Since a no-fault divorce is often straightforward, it may only take up to 26 days—unless other matters are contested.