There are two types of grounds for divorce: Fault and No-Fault.

The No-Fault grounds for divorce are usually irreconcilable differences or incompatibility. With these grounds, the parties are agreeing that they no longer wish or can live together as a married couple.

Fault grounds for divorce are what they imply—that one of the parties through their actions or inaction caused the dissolution of the relationship. Fault grounds can include the following:

  • Adultery
  • Mental or physical cruelty
  • Incompetence
  • Inability to consummate the marriage
  • Mental disease
  • Drug or alcohol addiction
  • Sexually transmitted disease
  • Incarceration for a felony or heinous crime

There are states such as California and Michigan that are pure No-Fault states. This means that No-Fault grounds are the only grounds that can be alleged for divorce. Most other states are mixed states in that those states have No-Fault grounds as well as Fault grounds.

Using No-Fault grounds will shorten the time it takes to get a divorce. However, in some states, if the responding party denies the No-Fault grounds, they have to prove Fault grounds to get divorced. Some litigants allege Fault grounds because they believe this will give them an advantage in custody, child support property and alimony issues. Usually court will hear the Fault issues if they relate to a spouse’s ability to parent, a party’s ability, or inability to pay support or the need for alimony regardless of whether they are alleged in the divorce petition.

Competent legal counsel will advise whether pursing a divorce on Fault or No-Fault grounds is advantageous to your case. Experienced family law practitioners will have knowledge of the judge that may hear your case, especially in those jurisdictions that allow for jury trial in divorce. Alleging Fault grounds could be used to bargain for better terms if the parties are attempting to negotiate a settlement of their issues before going before the court.


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