No-fault divorce means that a couple need not prove any instances of wrongdoing or abuse in order to file for divorce in a court of law. Without the no-fault option, allegations of a statutorily defined reason, such as cruelty, abuse, adultery or abandonment, must be made and proven.
The Pros of No-Fault Divorce:
1. Clearly, no-fault divorce may reduce long, cutthroat court battles over who is to blame when marriages fail, resulting in lower legal fees and more time-efficient proceedings. After all, many people divorce for reasons having little to do with the traditional, codified grounds.
2. With no fault, since it is not required that one party be accused and found fault with, there is no reason to manufacture or fabricate evidence against a spouse.
3. The integrity of the court is left intact and divorces caused by simple incompatibility may be obtained in an honest and streamlined fashion.
4. Even if instances of adultery or abuse did occur, the option of filing for a no-fault divorce allows parties to avoid airing their dirty laundry in public. The parties’ privacy is respected. Litigation focuses on the needs of the parties rather than fault.
5. Less time spent on accusations and less emphasis placed on the actions that led to the divorce keeps the parties moving forward and avoids extra aggravation of the parties’ stress and emotional turmoil. Overly burdened court dockets may also be alleviated by no fault divorce by eliminating one of the many issues to resolve.
6. Financial discovery, custody evaluations, forensic evaluations, interim motion papers for temporary financial support or custody provide the parties with a chance to be heard and to give the judge the full picture of the marriage.
7. Some states, such as New York, also have laws that create a rebuttable presumption that the more monied spouse is responsible for attorney and expert fees. Together, these measures may serve some level of protection for financially disadvantaged spouses who did not want a divorce or who were abused or abandoned.
The Cons of No-Fault Divorce:
1. The opportunity to inform a judge of the behaviors, circumstances and facts that led to the break-up of the marriage is an important part of a divorce for many people, offering the chance for psychological processing and an opportunity to be heard and validated.
2. It may also undercut a party’s credibility, inform a party’s child rearing capacity and affect the equitable allocation of marital resources.
3. No fault divorce is often initiated unilaterally. An aggrieved party may fear that a court will not take into account the fact that he or she does not want to divorce, or that the court will not be able to properly consider the issues without knowledge of the facts constituting fault-based grounds.
4. It may be further argued that no fault divorce undermines the institution of marriage itself by making it easier to exit it.
5. Many states that allow no fault divorce also require that custody and financial settlements be reached before divorce can be obtained. This slows the process down with the aim of achieving a fair result that will meet the family’s needs.