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

Are you considering a divorce but find yourself overwhelmed by all of the legal jargon? Those who seek divorce may find themselves faced with the legal system for the first time and it can be a lot to try and take in. You may have done some initial research and found yourself even more confused. Fault divorce? No-fault divorce? What does it all mean and what are the implications such terms may have for you and your own situation? Here, we will go through what fault and no-fault divorce means and the potential implications such terms may have for you and your Arizona divorce.

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

In a fault divorce, the person filing for divorce must assert valid grounds for the divorce as well as be prepared to support those grounds with credible evidence. Essentially, you must prove your spouse committed some sort of wrongdoing that you can prove in order to justify getting divorced. In a no-fault divorce, one spouse need only assert that the marriage is beyond repair, irretrievably broken, and there is no reasonable expectation for possible reconciliation. There is no need for the petitioning spouse to prove that the other spouse committed any sort of wrongdoing and it does not matter which spouse chooses to file for the divorce.

In current times, most states recognize that individuals should have the right to marry and, conversely, have the right to separate when they wish. That is why most states, such as Arizona, are no-fault divorce states. In Arizona, neither party to a divorce must prove fault on the part of the other spouse in order to have a divorce granted. The no-fault grounds for divorce in Arizona is that the marriage is irretrievably broken.

There is, however, an exception to Arizona’s general no-fault divorce state status. Some in Arizona may choose to enter into a covenant marriage. This may occur prior to marriage or a marriage may be converted into a covenant marriage later on. The couple agrees to go through premarital or marital counseling. Furthermore, the couple agrees that divorce will only be granted should certain grounds for divorce be present. These possible grounds for divorce in a covenant marriage include:

  • Abandonment
  • Abuse
  • Adultery
  • Both spouses agreeing to divorce
  • Commission of a felony
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Living separately for a minimum of two years prior to filing for divorce
  • Living separately for a minimum of one year after the filing for divorce

While Arizona remains, primarily, a no-fault divorce state, what may be seen as traditional grounds for a fault-based divorce, such as adultery, may still be relevant in divorce proceedings. While something such as adultery may not impact a spouse’s ability to get a divorce, it may impact things such as division of marital property or child custody. Adultery in and of itself will not impact property division, but a spouse who has lost money pursuing an affair may see this come back to him or her when the court sees to divide the marital debt and assets. Furthermore, the course of action a person took in pursuit of an affair may have, inadvertently, exposed himself or herself as being an unfit parent. This would impact child custody determinations.

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Do you have more questions about the Arizona divorce process? Cohen Family Law has answers. Contact us today.