By no-fault divorce, we mean the kind of divorce where to end a marriage one does not need any kind of allegation or proof of fault. With this kind of divorce, you can easily end your marriage legally irrespective of whether your spouse agrees or not to your decision. As of 2010, all the US states except New York has the option for no-fault divorce.
History of No-fault divorce:
The no-fault divorce law was passed in the year 1969. It became into being when the state of California made some laws in 1970 as an alternative to the at-fault divorce law, which was criticized by many. After California, this new divorce law became active in Iowa, Colorado, Florida, Michigan and Oregon. No-fault divorce law soon became popular across the US. The main reason behind the popularity of no-fault divorce was it showed a more humane and amicable way for a couple to end their marriage.
Grounds for no-fault divorce:
Some of the grounds on which couples can file a petition for no-fault divorce are irreconcilable differences between the parties, incompatibility in many aspects, and irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. The point to remember here is that the no fault divorce laws allowed to end the marriage irrespective of whether the decision is made by one of the parties or both. Prior to no-fault divorce, couple who want a divorce had to prove that their partner was at fault for the marriage breakdown.
In 1989, a study was conducted by Justec Research in Virginia where it was found that out of the total divorces happening on no-fault grounds, in four out of five cases, the decision to end the marriage was made by one partner only. This new divorce law allows a party to get a divorce without any solid reason. This ultimately resulted in an increase in divorce rate in the USA by 20 – 25 percent.
However, ‘No Fault Divorce’ has got its own pros and cons:
Pros of No-fault Divorce:
- With the introduction of no-fault divorce laws, the rate of domestic violence decreased at a rapid speed.
- No-fault divorce law makes it easy for anyone in an abusive marriage to end the relationship.
- Due to the unique format of no-fault divorce, the chance of conflict is very less, which causes less emotional trauma for children.
- To get a no-fault divorce less time is required which means less time need to spent in a stressful situation. Also the precious time of the court is also saved.
- Here settlements are made on the basis of need, ability to pay and contribution to the family finances.
- The only legal requirement to obtain no-fault divorce is the minimum residential requirement of 90 days or more as per the respective state law.
- No-fault divorce proceeding is less expensive and thus it reduces the financial burden between the parties seeking divorce.
- Mostly the no-fault divorce proceedings are uncontested and the decision to end a marriage is mutual.
- No-fault divorce also helped a lot in reducing the work load of the family courts.
Cons of No-fault Divorce:
- Over 80% of no-fault divorces are uncontested and mostly unilateral. This means that one party can file for divorce and the court can pass the order. Here the court does not take into account the consent of other party whether he or she wants to end the marriage. In simple terms it does not provide an opportunity to the other party to respond.
- It is the judge who has the right to decide on issues such as custody, dividing marital assets and spousal support. At times the decisions are not objective and leads the way to injustice.
- The no-fault divorce laws take away a father’s rights to his children as a husband cannot defense his wife who wants a divorce. Mothers are given more importance in such divorce cases and it becomes hard for a father to prove that his wife is not a good mother to his children.
- People are losing faith in the institution of marriage. This is evident in the high divorce rate in the United Statesafter the introduction of no-fault divorce laws.
- As the court will not enforce any spousal support and mother gets the child custody, it often means a low standard of living for the children if the mother is not working.
- With the introduction of no-fault divorce, the focus of the court system has been shifted from the institution of marriage to the system of divorce. This way institution of marriage has lost its significance in the society.
- The waiting period for no-fault divorce is too high. For example, in the state of Louisiana, a couple seeking no fault divorce must live separately for a period of 2 years or more before they can file for a divorce petition.
When the pros and cons of the No Fault Divorce are taken into consideration, it is a clear fact that the cons outweigh the pros. This is why in many of the US states; experts suggest demolishing the no-fault divorce laws.
More no-fault divorce law statistics and its impact on children:
According to the study conducted by Amanda Honeycutt, it was found that children whose parents went for no fault divorce grounds were less likely to reside with both their parents in future.
Also, due to no fault divorce law, the economical situation of the women became worst owing to no spousal support or child support. In 1986, a study was conducted with the conclusion that 34 percent of the divorced females having child custody were living below the poverty line. This economic condition affects the children a lot. Due to this children have no faith in the institution of marriage, increase in suicide cases amongst children, no respect for the society and so on.
Here is a video that can help you to understand the basics of no fault divorce in the USA.
When both husband and wife come to the conclusion that no amount of counseling or time can save their marriage, and that there is no hope left in the marriage, a no-fault divorce is usually the best option available to end their marriage. Today, one can file for no fault divorce without even worrying about finances as it can be done without lawyers, especially when there are no children involved. You just need the necessary forms, complete the paperwork and file the divorce on your own.