Family Law


Are divorces no-fault or fault-based?

It depends upon individual state law. Some states allow both fault divorce and no-fault divorce. In other words, a party may petition for divorce, alleging fault on their spouse. A prime example is adultery. If one party committed adultery, the other party can petition for a divorce on fault grounds. However, another common ground for divorce is “irreconcilable differences,”—a legal term that covers situations when two people simply feel that they have grown apart. That often would be a no-fault ground for divorce.

The question becomes whether a party’s faulty conduct may limit his or her recovery in the divorce. Again, this depends upon the laws of individual states. Some states allow fault-based divorces in which one party’s recovery of marital property may be limited by their own culpable conduct. Other states, such as Tennessee, are no-fault states, meaning that the distribution of marital property generally is done without attribution of fault.


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