A no-fault divorce is a method for dissolving a marriage without accusing the other spouse of any wrong-doing. In most states, no-fault divorce is recognized on the ground “irreconcilable differences” or an “irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.” A no-fault divorce may also be based on the parties being separated for a requisite period of time as provided under state law. For example, in New Jersey, spouses may be entitled to a no-fault divorce if they live separate and apart for 18 months with no prospect of reconciliation.
No-fault divorces are now widely recognized throughout the United States. For one reason, no-fault divorce avoids name-calling and finger-pointing in the initial pleadings filed with the court. It allows the parties to dissolve their marriage without initiating an acrimonious proceeding based on allegations of misconduct by each other. A no-fault divorce may ultimately be faster, and in many cases cheaper, than a fault divorce since it will not be necessary to plead and prove adultery, cruelty, desertion or any other kind of fault grounds. However, a no-fault divorce does not have any practical effect on a spouse’s right or entitlement to property, assets, support, custody or visitation rights. In a limited number of jurisdictions, a spouse’s misconduct, such as dissipating assets or participating in an extra-marital affair, may be considered in awarding alimony. Any conduct that depletes or destroys marital assets or results in the concealment or dissipation of marital property, may affect the ultimate division of the property between the parties. Accordingly, the choice of whether to pursue a no-fault divorce or a fault-grounds divorce is an important and critical preliminary decision which should be made with the assistance of an attorney at the outset of the case.
The Law Offices of Mark S. Guralnick has extensive experience in these matters and is available to provide guidance and assistance in pleading the proper kind of divorce case.