What Is the Difference Between Fault and No-Fault Divorce?

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Divorce Law
This article was reviewed and approved for publication by Attorney Charlotte Christian.

In Alabama, residents can apply for a fault or no-fault divorce. The differences between a fault and a no-fault divorce are the reason for filing and the cause of the divorce. Difference Between Fault and No-Fault DivorceIn a fault divorce, one of the spouses must prove that the other did something wrong to cause the divorce. In a no-fault divorce, the divorcing couple does not need to prove wrongdoing The type you choose could affect the outcome.

Divorces are both emotionally and financially exhausting for both parties involved. If you want more information about the difference between fault and no-fault divorces, divorce lawyers can help. Divorce attorneys handle many cases filed with both fault and no-fault grounds. They can guide you through filing a complaint and determining if you want to file a fault or no-fault divorce.

No-Fault Divorces

In a no-fault divorce, neither spouse has to prove the other spouse was the cause of the divorce. Filing for divorce under no-fault circumstances typically means you and your spouse agree you are no longer compatible and no longer wish to be married. Proving the other party engaged in misconduct takes time. Because this doesn’t have to happen in no-fault divorces, they conclude faster.What Is the Difference Between Fault and No-Fault Divorce

Grounds for a No-Fault Divorce

Alabama law lays out the grounds for divorce in Alabama. In a no-fault divorce, neither party acted in a way to solely cause the divorce.

Grounds in an Alabama no-fault divorce could include:

  • There was an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. The couple failed to reconcile, and further attempts to reconcile are impractical, futile, and not in the best interests of the parties themselves or their family.
  • The couple is incompatible. The temperaments of the spouses and incompatible, and the parties agree they can no longer live together.

If both spouses agree, the courts will accept the no-fault divorce complaint. Usually, a no-fault divorce is easier on both parties because there is no need to investigate the reasons for divorce.

Pros and Cons of a No-Fault Divorce

Many couples gradually grow apart and realize that they are no longer compatible.

The many advantages of a no-fault divorce include:

  • You don’t have to worry about fabricated evidence. In a fault divorce, the spouse must prove the at-fault party caused the divorce. A bitter spouse could fabricate evidence to make the other party look bad if the divorce is contentious.
  • The divorce process usually concludes faster. This type of divorce usually means fewer motions, faster hearing schedules, and less negotiation.
  • Both parties can save money. In a no-fault divorce, the parties don’t use time trying to dispute allegations of fault. This makes the divorce process go faster. One cost of a divorce is paying attorneys for their time. A faster divorce process means attorney’s fees will cost less.
  • Matters are more private. In a fault divorce, one spouse must prove the other party at fault for the divorce. Because of this, divorce cases must reveal detailed information of private information about the couple. When the divorce is no-fault, these investigations do not need to occur.

The pros outweigh the cons in a no-fault divorce. A con of choosing a no-fault divorce is you may not have as much negotiating power when negotiating assets.

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Fault Divorces

A fault divorce can occur when one spouse alleges and proves the other spouse’s behavior caused the marriage. Only some states offer fault divorces; Alabama is one of them. People getting divorced could choose a fault-based divorce for several reasons.

Some of these reasons could include:

  • If one spouse caused the divorce, the other could be entitled to receive more marital property or alimony payments from the other.
  • If there is a prenup, some proven allegations, such as adultery, could nullify sections of the document.
  • One spouse may have hurt feelings and want the other spouse to be held accountable for their actions.

Grounds For a Fault Divorce

In a fault divorce, the grounds usually include the other spouse’s misconduct that caused the breakup. If you or your spouse has fault grounds in the complaint, the party filing the complaint must prove the other party committed these acts. An attorney could help you establish the other party’s fault or defend you against these allegations.

According to Alabama law, grounds for a fault divorce include:

  • If one party was physically and incurably incapacitated when entering into the marriage state.
  • If either party committed adultery. Adultery is any sexual relationship outside of the person they are married to.
  • If, for one year preceding the filing for divorce, one party abandoned the other.
  • Either party has been in prison for at least two years, with their sentence being over seven years.
  • If one spouse committed a crime against nature, mankind, or animals.
  • If either of the spouses became addicted to drugs or alcohol. Habitual drug use includes the everyday use of opiates, morphine, cocaine, or other similar drugs.
  • If one of the parties requires confinement to a mental hospital for five successive years. A superintendent of the mental hospital must deem the other spouse incurably insane after a complete examination.
  • If the wife was pregnant with someone else’s child at the time of the marriage and the husband was unaware of the pregnancy.
  • If either party committed violence against the other. This includes any danger to the life or health of the other.

Again, you or your spouse must prove to the courts that the other spouse engaged in misconduct to consider the divorce a fault divorce.

Pros and Cons of a Fault Divorce

The pros of a fault divorce are that you could have more negotiating power. A fault divorce only occurs if it is proven your soon-to-be ex-spouse committed an act of misconduct. You must present evidence and have witnesses testify your claims are valid.

Cons of a fault divorce include:

  • They take more time. Because there must be an investigation and hearing as to whether the allegations are true, a fault divorce can take more time to conclude.
  • They cost more money. Because an attorney must investigate and prepare a case, they will have to work on the case longer. The more time an attorney works on the case, the more they can charge for legal services.
  • You have less privacy. Because you or your spouse must prove that one spouse engaged in misconduct, everyone can find intimate details of the marriage.
  • It is harder for children. Divorce, in general, is typically hard for children. Finding out intimate details of their parents’ misconduct can make a difficult situation even harder.

In addition, parties considered at fault may not receive as much in the divorce since they were the cause.

Fault Divorce Defenses

A spouse accused of causing the divorce can defend themselves against these allegations. They can object to the fault of divorce and protect themselves by disproving it. An attorney can help those accused of fault in a divorce by preparing a solid defensive strategy.

Examples of fault divorce defenses could include:

  • Condonation: The act of condoning, overlooking, and the implied forgiveness of an action. A condonation defense is reasonable when the spouse knew about the misconduct, forgave their spouse, and continued the marriage.
  • Provocation: When one spouse provoked their spouse to act a certain way. Provocation is a reasonable defense in cases where one spouse may have committed adultery, so the other left them. The spouse who committed adultery cannot prove the other abandoned them because they are the ones who provoked the abandonment.
  • Connivance: Knowing something terrible is happening and allowing it to happen anyway. In some cases, the spouse could even be involved in the wrongdoing.

An attorney can defend and protect your interests after fault divorce allegations. However, you could risk losing negotiating power during asset division, child support, and custody decisions if your spouse provides proof of your misconduct.

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Requirements for an Alabama Divorce

Each state has requirements for filing for a divorce. Divorces are complicated matters, and navigating the conditions is difficult. However, a divorce attorney can guide you through the process of an Alabama divorce.

Alabama divorce requirements include:

  • Stating the grounds for divorce. In Alabama, you can state either fault or no-fault grounds for divorce.
  • Meeting the residency requirements. According to Alabama state law, if the defendant is a non-resident, the other party must have lived in the state for at least six months before filing the divorce complaint.
  • Adhering to a waiting period. The court will not enter a final judgment until the expiration of 30 days from the date of the filed complaint. The waiting period gives each party time to cool off and decide if divorce is really what they want. If the couple still wants to divorce after 30 days, the process will continue to move forward.
  • Restrictions on remarriage. Once the judge enters the final divorce judgment, neither party can get married in the state of Alabama for at least 60 days. The only exception is if they get remarried to each other. If the parties have a wedding within this time, the wedding and marriage are invalid. Although, if either party gets married in a state outside of Alabama, the marriage is valid.

During the 30-day waiting period, the courts can enter temporary orders. Temporary orders allow the couple to address important circumstances during the 30-day waiting period.

Examples of temporary orders could include:

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An Attorney Can Provide Guidance in a Fault and No-Fault Divorce

Regardless of if you are seeking a fault or no-fault divorce, an attorney can help. Even if you have a no-fault divorce, you or the other party could not agree on all issues. A contested divorce is when parties disagree on any issue.

Ways An Attorney Can Help in a No-Fault Divorce

In a no-fault divorce, an attorney can negotiate any contested issues. Even if the couple parts on good terms, many issues could remain.

Points of contention for couples even in a no-fault divorce could include:

  • Custody agreements
  • Child support payments
  • Alimony payments
  • Property division

An attorney can discuss what assets are most important to you, fight for you to keep assets, and help ensure the divorce agreement is fair to you. An attorney can also help you save money in the long run by lowering alimony or child support payments.

Ways an Attorney Can Help in a Fault Divorce

If you petition for divorce, an attorney can help you prove your partner committed misconduct in the marriage and is the reason for the breakup. If you are the one with the allegations against you, an attorney can develop a defensive strategy to falsify the claims against you.

Like any divorce, attorneys can also negotiate on your behalf for you to receive a fair settlement.

Let a Divorce Attorney Help You Today

Charlotte Christian

Charlotte Christian, Divorce Attorney

The difference between a fault and a no-fault divorce is vast, and one may benefit you more than the other. Separating your life and your assets from your spouse can be difficult without the help of a family law firm. Lawyers can help you weigh the pitfalls and benefits of each type of divorce, all while working towards a fair agreement.

An attorney can advocate for you if you seek a divorce or receive divorce papers, and answer all your questions about assets, alimony, child support, and other issues you may encounter. Contact an attorney who can look out for your best interests and protect you from being taken advantage of by your ex-spouse. You do not have to handle your divorce alone.

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