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Why It Might Be a Bad Idea To Pursue No-Fault Divorce


Why It Might Be a Bad Idea To Pursue No-Fault Divorce

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There are both legal and moral reasons to consider when choosing between filing a no-fault and an at-fault divorce. Read for a breakdown of how to think through this hard decision.

A no-fault divorce may seem like a good idea on the surface, as it may be the more cost effective option when choosing between a no-fault and at-fault divorce, but there are multiple reasons that a no-fault divorce can be unfavorable to either spouse.

Some reasons against filing a no-fault divorce can include:

  • The unilateral nature of a no-fault divorce
  • Still needing to litigate custody, child support and alimony issues
  • Religious motivations
  • Effects on psychological healing

The unilateral nature of a no-fault divorce

A no-fault divorce can be filed by one spouse only. That means, in a legal sense, that the other party cannot object to the divorce. The effect of filing unilaterally in a no-fault divorce proceeding is that your spouse cannot contest the divorce or say that he/she does not want it.

This means that, in a no-fault divorce, the spouse not filing for divorce cannot tell their side of the story since there is no fault to be placed on either side. This leaves the Judge deciding some issues without necessarily hearing all of the facts.

That said, you can still object to the issues of custody, visitation, and support in a no-fault divorce. You cannot object to the dissolution of the marriage itself, but your side of the story would be heard on the specific issues to which you raise objections.

Still needing to litigate custody, child support and alimony issues

When a no-fault divorce is filed, custody, alimony, and child support issues still need to be resolved. Therefore, if you file on no-fault grounds, you may still need to litigate these issues in order for the court to determine what is in the best interest of the children, or the amount properly awarded for child support.

As such, a no-fault divorce does not save you from having to argue in court. In fact, you may end up litigating some sort of “fault” throughout the divorce proceeding anyway to determine custody and child support.

Additionally, since issues like alimony are based solely on which spouse makes more money and whether the marriage itself lasted a certain amount of time, the resulting alimony obligations of a no-fault divorce proceeding may feel unfair. 

No-fault divorce is not recognized in many religious faiths

Many religious faiths believe that a no-fault divorce infringes on an individual’s religious liberty. The non-filing spouse cannot object to the divorce and therefore it deprives that spouse of his/her inherent right to exercise his religious faith and not accept the divorce.

Since some religious faiths consider marriage a contract, a spouse who is filing for divorce has thus broken that religious contract, and the faith requires pursuing an at fault divorce.

At-fault divorces can be psychologically healing

Sometimes, a no-fault divorce can take away from the psychological healing that can occur when filing an at-fault divorce. If you are the non-filing spouse, you may feel that you were not heard throughout the marriage and cannot voice the reasons for the failure of the marriage to anyone.

In a no-fault divorce, your voice may not be heard again in court. Letting the court, your spouse, family, and friends know why the divorce is ending and finally being heard can be healing. That opportunity is lost in a no-fault divorce.

Do you need an at fault divorce lawyer? What are your options?

Hiring a lawyer is not your only path to getting legal guidance for your situation. Several lawyers and law firms have worked with Gavel to produce “legal apps” that can help you with this process:

For more complex situations, contacting a lawyer in an at-fault divorce can be essential. That lawyer can help you through your internal debate about filing on grounds of fault or not fault, whether you need to defend a claim of fault, or whether you have already filed and need help navigating the at-fault system.

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