Who Is At Fault Here? Understanding At-Fault Divorces

When things go wrong enough for a couple to consider a divorce, you may automatically dwell on not just fault, but other emotional aspects of the situation. Surprisingly, fault is not just an urge to assign blame but a legal concept, at least in some states. If you live in one of the many states that allow fault, or grounds, to be a part of your divorce, it pays to understand what you might be dealing with. Read on to find out more about fault in divorces.

Do you have a choice in the matter?

In a word, no. No matter who files first, the other party always has the right to counter with a fault divorce. Since irreconcilable differences is one of the faults available, the couple's disagreement over the issue is clearly grounds for divorce. If you are able to prove that the alleged fault did not exist, however, you may be granted a no-fault divorce. More on that later.

Common grounds for divorce

  • Adultery
  • Desertion
  • Irreconcilable differences
  • Spouse in prison
  • Inability to have sex
  • Cruelty (can be physical or emotional)

Why would anyone want to prove fault?

Usually, revenge and emotional satisfaction is only part of the issue. Some states allow important issues like alimony (spousal support), child custody, property decisions, and debt decisions to be influenced by the issue of fault. Additionally, some states make couples endure a waiting period if they want to get a no-fault divorce.

Convincing the court that a fault divorce is not appropriate

If you are on the receiving end of a fault divorce and want to fight it, you do have several defenses at your disposal. Consider these:

1. Provocation: For example, if your spouse is claiming desertion as a grounds, this defense attempts to prove that you were provoked to leave.

2. Connivance: If you are being held responsible for adultery as a ground, you might claim that your spouse connived to frame you in some manner. For instance, your spouse introduced you to your lover and encouraged the relationship.

3. Condonation: Just as it sounds, this defense explores situations where the actions of the spouse failed to raise an objection and went on for some time before problems began.

What about no-fault divorce?

Even if you do live in one of the states that allow fault to be used, no-fault divorces are still available. With this form of divorce, there need not be any grounds stated whatsoever. Issues dealing with spousal support, child custody, and more are decided on merit or equity and not on fault. Naturally, no-fault divorces are far quicker and less expensive to go through than a highly litigated fault divorce. Speak to your divorce attorney about both options.

Reach out to a firm like the Law Offices of Jamie L. Hazlett & Associates for more information.