No-Fault Divorce: What It Means For Your Case

Goldberg Jones Divorce Leave a Comment

Marriages end for a variety of reasons. There can be infidelity, abuse, mistrust, financial issues, and much more. The list of causes of divorce is practically endless. That doesn’t mean, however, that there is always someone at fault.

Sometimes two people grow apart and evolve in different, incompatible directions. Or maybe a marriage just doesn’t work for any number of reasons. No one is specifically to blame, it simply wasn’t right.

Washington is a no-fault divorce state, which means that, in order for a marriage to be dissolved, there is no need for one party to assign blame or to prove that the other was in the wrong.

In this state, all that’s required for a divorce to be conferred is for one spouse to declare that the union is irretrievably broken, that there is no hope for reconciliation, and that it can’t be saved.

Basically, under the no-fault statutes, as long as a petitioner is legally married, meets the residency requirements in Washington, and correctly follows the procedure, you will be granted a divorce if you want one.

This means you don’t have to provide any grounds, there are no “innocent” or “guilty” parties, and there is no need or value in mudslinging back and forth. This does, however, come with its own distinct elements.

What No-Fault Divorce Means For You:

In practical terms, no-fault divorce shortens and streamlines the process of dissolving a marriage. Also, it precludes the need to prove offenses, and there is no necessity to go to court, throw around accusations, or bring up painful memories and experiences that you may want to leave in the rear-view mirror.

Ideally, this approach doesn’t open up old wounds in the same way as a traditional divorce, and it very well may help get you on the road to healing and moving on with your life that much faster.

In some states, couples have to live apart for a predetermined amount of time in order to be granted a no-fault divorce. This, however, is not the case in Washington.

Impact Of No-Fault Divorce On Settlements:

Under no-fault divorce laws, wrongdoing is not relevant when it comes to ending a marriage. Though that doesn’t mean it won’t factor in at all during the process.

When it comes to the settlement, fault can very much figure into the court’s decision. It may impact things like child custody, visitation, the ultimate division of property, the awarding of spousal support, and many more areas of your divorce.

At the very base level, no-fault divorce simply means that if you want to end your marriage, and follow the appropriate legal steps, it will be granted.

Though evidence of fault in divorce is generally not used in property division—things like financial need, future job prospects, marriage length, child custody, and other circumstances are the primary factors that figure into these decisions—it can come into play. For example, if one spouse’s behavior contributed to financial hardships, like with gambling debts or surprise big purchases, that may be taken into account in the settlement.

Arguments For No-Fault Divorce:

Proponents of no-fault divorce argue that rates of both suicide and domestic abuse decrease in states that allow this practice, as well as lauding a slight overall decline in the total number of divorces.

Additionally, the idea that outsiders, people with no legitimate stake in a union, may legally compel spouses to remain married, potentially even in an unsafe situation, is a mystifying proposition to some.

The logic is that external parties shouldn’t be allowed to determine whether one person’s desire and reasons to leave are valid or not, and that only the people directly involved can come to such a conclusion.

Arguments Against No-Fault Divorce:

One of the key arguments against instating no-fault divorce has been by groups who claim that this allows the party who may actually be at fault for the dissolution of a marriage, for example, a cheating or abusive spouse, to themselves obtain a divorce without the stain of wrongdoing.

In this way, it could actually reward the misconduct. The case has also been made that, by making divorce easier to acquire:

  • it lessens the importance of the social contract of marriage,
  • decreases the matrimonial bond, and,
  • especially as far as men are concerned, allows women to take custody of children at the expense of the husband, even when the father may have done nothing wrong.

Many factors play a part in divorce, and the process can become long-winded and complicated. In an ideal sense, no-fault divorce streamlines this undertaking some, allowing spouses a way out of marriages that just do not work, whatever the underlying causes. But it still comes with its own set of complications to navigate.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *