No-fault divorce means what the name implies—that neither party to the divorce has to prove fault or guilt on the part of the other spouse in order to obtain the divorce. No-fault divorce is less acrimonious. The first state to enact no-fault divorce laws was California, the last state was New York.

Earlier in history, there was a social stigma to divorce and the grounds for obtaining a divorce were limited. People were truly married “till death did they part.” Historically the most famous divorce is probably that of Henry the Eight from the first of his six wives. In the United States, the development of no-fault divorce was recognition of the fact that divorce was more commonplace and that people were using legal fictions in order to substantiate the grounds for divorce.

In a no-fault divorce the parties allege “irreconcilable differences” or “irretrievable marriage breakdown.” In some states, living separate and apart for the required period with the intention that the separation is permanent is enough to create grounds for divorce. Most states now have some form of no-fault clause in their divorce statutes, while retaining fault grounds for divorce. States such as California are considered pure no-fault states because they have rescinded all fault grounds for divorce.

No-fault divorces have the advantage of being faster to process, and it removes the possibility of the other spouse objecting to or blocking the divorce. Objecting to the no-fault ground in the divorce is an example of an irreconcilable difference and proves that the marriage is broken. No-fault divorces also make the process less acrimonious.

Filing for a divorce on no-fault grounds does not necessarily preclude a party from using bad conduct in a marriage as a reason as to why the injured party may be entitled to more than a fair share of the marital estate. This is only an issue in equitable division states. In community property states, marital property is divided 50/50 with no exceptions.


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