Should You File For No Fault Divorce?

by: Russ Thornton

Going through a divorce is a stressful and often traumatic experience for many women, even if you are the one who wants out of the marriage. You may be considering a no fault divorce, but wonder whether it is the right option for you, or whether it may actually work against you in terms of financial matters.

What Exactly Is A No Fault Divorce?

Simply stated, this is a type of filing for spouses who want to end a marriage without alleging fault in either spouse; in other words, the spouse filing for divorce does not need to accuse his or her husband or wife of any wrongdoing. While it may sound like an amicable solution, there are pros and cons to be considered.

Obviously, this type of divorce makes it easier to end the marriage without really putting in an effort to make it work. Years ago, getting out of a marriage wasn’t quite so easy; many couples would try therapy, counseling, or other possible solutions in an effort to give the marriage another chance. However, if you are a woman considering your options there are a few things you should be aware of before filing for no fault divorce.

A Few of the Advantages of This Type of Divorce Include:

In most cases, the length of time it takes for the divorce to become final is shortened; ultimately, a stressful situation doesn’t have to drag out. These types of divorces tend to be much quicker from beginning to end, because neither party is trying to prove or defend their case. If you want to complete the divorce as quickly as possible, then a no-fault divorce is going to be the best option. Just because it’s the quickest doesn’t mean that it’s the best.

Parents often find that the emotional stress for their children is reduced, simply because there is less conflict.

Reduced incidents of domestic violence. Women who are married to violent men are often afraid to attempt to get out of the marriage for a number of reasons, one being that they don’t want to “point a finger” at their husbands and aggravate the situation further. No fault divorce has proven to reduce the incidents of domestic violence, because the process does not require one spouse be at fault.

A Few Disadvantages of No Fault Divorce Where Women are Concerned:

In some cases, a lower standard of living. In a no fault filing, no one is to blame for the dissolution of the marriage; therefore, a woman may have no grounds to argue her defense. In most instances, mothers get custody of their children. When the courts do not order any spousal support, the standard of living is often lowered.

Issues such as the division of marital assets, child custody, and spousal support are often left for the Family Court Judges to decide, which means his or her decision may not be objective considering those decisions are based for the most part on the judge’s feelings.

Unfortunately, it is known that on average, men’s disposable income rises by 40% following a divorce, while women’s fall about 70%. Women who have largely worked in a capacity as homemaker throughout the marriage are at a huge disadvantage when a husband decides to end the marriage. Many cannot afford a lawyer, and because a no fault divorce usually does not have the court scrutiny found in other types of divorce, woman may receive inadequate support.

What About An At Fault Divorce?

The other obvious choice for divorce is to file for an at fault divorce, which as you can guess from the name, implies that one of the parties has committed some sort of fault, which the other party decides is grounds for divorce. There are several common faults that women decide are adequate grounds, and the courts tend to agree. It’s important to understand that every situation is different, and every marriage is different as well. There are no outlined grounds for divorce.

The two most common grounds that the courts see, and the easiest to prove (typically) are either abuse or adultery. If either of these have occurred in your marriage and you have some type of proof of them, then proving fault in court should be a tad easier. The process is still going to be longer and more difficult than a no fault divorce, but you will be able to receive financial support after the divorce.

Some of the other grounds for divorce that the courts tend to accept for assigning fault is abandonment for a certain amount of time, imprisonment for more than a few years, or problems performing sexually (as long as those problems were not discussed beforehand). These faults might be more difficult to prove if your spouse decides that they want to defend themselves.

One important difference between an at fault versus a no fault divorce is the ability to stop the divorce process. With a no fault divorce, the other spouse will not be able to stop the divorce, but with an at fault, they can argue the process and prevent the divorce from going through.

Bottom Line

Divorces are going to be an emotionally, and possibly financially, difficult time. It’s easy to make decisions based on your emotions and to want the whole situation over as quickly as possible, but you should always compare all of your different options before deciding which divorce process that you want to use.

No one can tell you what solution is best when your marriage comes to an end. However, it is critical that you weigh the pros and cons of a no fault divorce. Women without children or with children who are grown should carefully consider the potential financial impact of this type of filing; once you are on your own you become self-reliant and independent. Can you afford it if you receive no spousal support, or assets accumulated during the marriage are not equally divided? Food for thought.