No-Fault Divorce to End a Marriage

You don’t hate your husband. Your husband doesn’t hate you. Things, however, just haven’t worked out in your marriage. There are differences you should have seen as hurdles in the beginning, but they didn’t manifest until the honeymoon was over. Maybe it’s time to seek a no-fault divorce. 

A no fault divorce happens when a couple want to end their marriage. One spouse has clearly not wronged the other, but the union has broken down. There has been no adultery, no abuse, financial impropriety or other traditional divorce grounds. When a marriage breaks down simply because the parties no longer wish to be married anymore, a no fault divorce may take place. This has become a common form of divorce in the United States and most states recognize no fault divorce grounds as a legitimate reason to end a marriage. Courts may refer to this as “divorce on the basis of irreconcilable differences”, meaning the couple just can’t – or don’t want to try and fix it anymore, and have decided it’s best to split. That’s the basis of a no-fault divorce.

No fault divorce rules eliminate the requirement that there must be a specific reason for the divorce. All 50 states now allow no-fault divorces, recognizing that people sometimes grow apart. Sometimes there are complex personal reasons for no longer wishing to be married. Plus, it is widely agreed by legal professionals and professional counselors that reducing conflict in a divorce – regardless of fault – is a healthier scenario for both spouses and prevents unnecessary trauma and emotional turmoil for other family members, friends, and – especially – for children of the marriage.

The exact requirements for a no fault divorce vary by state, but in many states the couple only has to file papers and live apart for a certain set period of time. In other cases in other jurisdictions, couples seeking a no-fault divorce may also need to go through a process of becoming legally separated before you may file for a no fault divorce. If children were born during the marriage, some states require that parents take a class on the effect of divorce on children to prepare both the parents and their kids for this life-changing event.

The no-fault divorce  process usually begins with one spouse filing a divorce petition in the court where they live. Before preparing and filing the divorce the spouses meet with divorce attorneys, and, after examining financial records and information, they draft a plan for distribution of the assets (property, real estate holdings, car, savings, etc.) between the spouses. A spouse will get a deadline to respond to the divorce petition, and during this time, one of the divorce attorneys usually requests temporary orders that hold until the divorce becomes finalized. The spouses may agree to the preliminary orders outright, or the court may hold a hearing.

Temporary orders may include orders regarding which parent has custody of the children, child visitation and support, and spousal support (alimony payments). Temporary orders also commonly address financial issues, and may include freezes on what the spouses may do with marital assets, who has control of the money and joint bank accounts, and which spouse may live in their home. The court may also put in place a restraining order if there is a history of domestic violence.

The next step in the no-fault divorce is to come to an agreement regarding property, child custody, and child support, through their lawyers or through divorce mediation. If the spouses just can’t agree on most issues, cases may end up in trial after all or being decided by a judge, and the no-fault option is lost.

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