Divorcing A Bully | Fault Vs. At-Fault Divorce

1 July 2015
 Categories: Law, Articles


If you are getting a divorce because your spouse did something unforgivable, you need to look into at-fault divorce. Laws. Some states are at-fault states, which can allow you to receive many more perks from the divorce than you could in a no-fault state. Here is an overview of at-fault vs. no-fault, and what it means for your divorce.

Fault Divorce

If you are looking to proceed with a fault divorce, it can help you achieve your divorce much more easily. However, you have to be able to prove that your spouse did something that is considered one of the grounds for fault. These grounds may include:

  • Adultery
  • Substance abuse
  • Lengthy incarceration
  • Physical abuse
  • Emotional abuse

There are different reasons people choose to pick a fault divorce. One might be for religious reasons or to remove the stigma of divorce from your life. Other good reasons include bypassing wait times or receiving alimony.

Some states may require you to wait six months or more after filing for divorce for the divorce to actually finalize. Some require trial separations. States with at-fault divorces often allow people to forgo these requirements. If you have been a stay-at-home mother for the past ten years and your spouse began having an affair, you shouldn't have to come out of the divorce penniless. Finding a job after being out of the workforce so long can make it difficult to land a job. The at-fault divorce might allow you to collect alimony for a specific period of time. Sometimes it will be specified for a certain number of years Other times, it is indefinite. Usually, spousal support will stop if you acquire a live-in partner or remarry.

There are only 17 states that don't allow you to choose at-fault divorce as an option. However, a couple of them, such as California and Florida, have a few exceptions to the rule. The exceptions are usually for people who find out that that their spouse is mentally insane. The allegations have to be confirmed with a diagnosis from a mental health professional. If you live in one of the remaining 33 states, you can try for a fault divorce.

No-Fault Divorce

If you live in a no-fault state or you are having a difficult time proving fault, you will have to file a traditional no-fault divorce. This means that the courts will not care what your spouse did to you to result in the divorce proceedings.  Whether your spouse was abusive or a cheater, you will have to abide by any trial separations or other wait periods the state requires before washing your hands of your spouse. There are pros and cons to a no-fault divorce. For one, if you and your spouse have reputations to uphold, you won't have to worry about all of your problems being aired out to the public. While you may not care if your spouse's  problems are made public, your angry spouse would be likely to say many bad things about you whether they are true or not.

If you have children, the no-fault divorce will give you and your spouse a better chance of maintaining positive relationships with them. While having to file a no-fault divorce may be frustrating, it could end up being a blessing in disguise. Of course, you might have to fight a lot harder for what you want out of your divorce, because you can't say you deserve something because of what your spouse did to you.

People can still collect alimony in a no-fault divorce, but it isn't always as easy. You might have to be married for a certain length of time, and your spouse may have to earn over a certain amount of money for it to be approved. It depends on your state laws and the court's ruling.

If you live in a fault divorce state and your spouse has done something under the grounds of fault, it can be worth it to file an at-fault divorce. However, living in a no-fault state isn't the end of the world. Make sure you obtain a good divorce lawyer and you know your state's divorce laws before filing any paperwork.