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Understanding the differences between fault, no-fault divorce

Understanding the differences between fault, no-fault divorce

When couples get divorced, in some states they can cite “fault.” Colorado is not one of those states. Every state in the U.S., however, allow for filings of “no-fault” divorce. Even though people in Colorado can only file for the latter, it’s still interesting to look at the differences between the two.
With a fault divorce, the person filing the divorce has to show that the other person committed a fault and that is the reason for the divorce. Faults could include one or more of the following: abandonment, abuse, imprisonment, adultery or impotency, among others.
A no-fault divorce is more common and means that one spouse doesn’t have to show that the other committed a fault. The filing party needs only allege that the marriage is irretrievably broken. A no-fault divorce is appropriate any time one person does not want to be married to another because they have grown apart. That’s when people tend to cite “irreconcilable differences.”
While a couple involved in a no-fault divorce cannot contest the action itself, a party can contest certain allegations and requests in the petition for dissolution of marriage. For example, should a party request full custody of the children, the other party could contest that and request joint custody.
The grounds for divorce have evolved over the years. With no-fault divorce, you don’t necessarily need to show that the other spouse is to blame. As long as the state honors the reason, the divorce can ensue, although some states do require couples to live apart for a certain period of time prior to filing.
Source: Reuters, “What is a fault divorce?” Cynthia Hsu, June 1, 2012


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