What Is an At-Fault Divorce?
Posted: December 8, 2022
Divorce is an emotional and often confusing time. So when a marriage breaks up, important steps may get skipped or overlooked as you try to navigate the separation. But while many people are rightfully focused on getting away from their unhappy situation, it’s important to go through the legal portion of a divorce correctly. For instance, knowing whether to opt for an at-fault divorce can be hugely beneficial, especially in cases where one partner’s actions may have been responsible for the marriage ending.
What Is an At-Fault Divorce?
As the name suggests, opting for an at-fault divorce is ideal for situations where one partner has done (or failed to do) something that results in the divorce. In an at-fault divorce, these actions — typically referred to as matrimonial offenses — become central to the legal proceedings. While not every state allows for this type of divorce filing, many do, including New Jersey, Connecticut, and Alabama.
One of the primary benefits of choosing an at-fault divorce is that couples do not have to wait the usual amount of “separation time” before being granted a legal divorce. The other main benefit is that, if an at-fault divorce is granted, the spouse who filed is more likely to receive a greater share of property and alimony.
Fault Divorce vs. No-Fault Divorce
There are a number of notable differences between a fault and no-fault divorce. No-fault divorces, which are more common, happen when the couple does not cite specific wrongdoing by a single partner. The terminology used in these cases varies, but “irreconcilable differences” is the most common way of describing the reason for a no-fault divorce.
At-fault divorces, on the other hand, need to have specific grounds for divorce that are experienced by one partner significantly more than the other.
Reasons for an At-Fault Divorce
There are a wide variety of matrimonial offenses that can serve as the basis of an at-fault divorce. Most of these are based on one partner’s failing in a way that directly impacts the couple’s ability to function as a married unit. Common reasons include, but are not limited to:
Inability to have sexual intercourse (if the issue was hidden before the marriage)
Infliction of emotional or physical pain
Insanity (if determined by doctors to be “incurable”)
Regardless of which reason is cited in the divorce proceedings, the partner filing for divorce must prove that their allegations are valid to standards approved by the presiding judge.
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