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The Issues With No-Fault Divorce
A no-fault divorce does not require either party to assign and prove wrongdoing for the marriage to dissolve. A family court is permitted by law to grant a divorce without asking the petitioner to prove the defendant acted in a manner that breached the marital contract. Every state has stipulated grounds upon which either spouse could seek this type of divorce, but the most common reasons are “irreconcilable differences” or “unreasonable behavior” or “irreversible breakdown.” The filing spouse is only required to give testimony of these two things:

  • The marriage has permanently broken down
  • The union cannot be salvaged through any means

When these grounds and proof is provided, the non-filing spouse cannot enter a rebuttal, so they merely oblige. Therefore, issues such as infidelity, domestic violence, abandonment, mental illness, and financial abuse have no place in divorce proceedings, and a family court judge will rule as per the state regulations. This article looks into what fault and no-fault divorces are, legal requirements for filing, plus the benefits and issues associated with no-fault divorce. However, it is wise to consult a Los Angeles Divorce Attorney if you are looking for more specific information regarding no-fault divorce.
What is a Fault Divorce?
A fault divorce is a type of divorce where one spouse can request the dissolution of their marriage on the premise of the wrongdoing of their soon-to-be separated spouse. The most common reasons cited in fault divorces are adultery, emotional or physical pain, imprisonment, and abandonment for a given duration. Spouses who are pursuing this divorce are not required to live separately before filing a petition and the spouse who proves fault usually gets a more significant share of assets.
If both spouses can prove wrongdoing, the court determines which party has committed the least amount of wrongdoing and grants them divorce as per the comparative rectitude doctrine. This policy prevents courts from denying either party a divorce if they are both proven to be at fault as people should not be forced to stay married if they don’t want to be.
Fault divorces are different from no-fault divorces in that the former permits a spouse to challenge the petition by mounting several defenses: provocation, collision, recrimination, condonation, and connivance.
How Do States Treat No-Fault Divorces?
No-fault divorces are recognized in all states, including New York State which legalized it in 2010. Some states, however, require the separating spouses to live separately before either partner files a petition.
Most states have a residency requirement where at least one spouse must have lived continuously in that state for at least six months to a year before filing a petition there. States like Alaska, South Dakota, and Washington do not have a stipulated length of time so you can submit here by just proving residency at the date of filing. No matter how favorable the terms are in a particular state, it is recommended to file for divorce in the same state of residence. You may need amendments down the line such as child custody arrangements, and this can only be done at the same court that granted the dissolution of marriage. For more information regarding jurisdiction contact a Los Angeles Divorce Attorney.
If your spouse files in a different state, whatever the court decides will apply to you back home. However, there are instances where divorce court may not have personal jurisdiction over the spouse who lives elsewhere. The decree to dissolve the marriage stands, but other decisions like division of property and child support are not legally binding.
Personal Jurisdiction in No-Fault Divorces
Courts in America are required to have two forms of jurisdiction so they can hear a case: subject matter and personal jurisdiction. The former is generally easy to determine while the latter is concerned with checking whether that particular court has a right to make legally binding decisions regarding you. There are four personal jurisdictions in case law, and a divorce expert can help you determine which one applies. They include:

  • Presence – this refers to you being physically present to be served with legal documents, in this case, a petition for divorce
  • Consent – this jurisdiction means you have given permission for a court to have authority over you, and it can be explicit or implied. Explicit consent means you appear before the court where the petition was filed thus lend yourself to its authority while implied consent is where you use the facilities of that state, e.g., driving on its highways.
  • Domicile – the court has authority depending on where you reside or where you have opened a business enterprise.
  • Minimum contacts – this authority happens when the court determines you have had sufficient contact with the state to validate having jurisdiction over you.
  • In rem – this form of authority is where a court has power over assets, not people and therefore, has jurisdiction over you. This influence comes in handy when one or both separating spouses own property in different states from where the petition was filed.

What are the Benefits of a No-Fault Divorce?
Supporters of a no-fault divorce argue that allowing couples to separate eliminates the chance of protracted courtroom drama that only makes the process painful. If children are involved, they witness their parents’ infighting, and as things become acrimonious, children bear the emotional brunt of the divorce.
Moreover, new-wave feminists vehemently disagree with any court that forces people to remain married if one partner won’t sign. They argued that such a situation where one or both spouses are trapped is akin to modern slavery and therefore should be outlawed.
Those concerned that no-fault divorces increase the rate of divorce are challenged by studies indicating just the opposite; incidences of divorce fell in the years following the 1979 decree. An expert, however, disputed this notion with his research published in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, where he notes that the rate of divorce in same-sex marriages has skyrocketed.
No-fault divorce makes it possible to dissolve marital unions in a far less spiteful manner and save the partners emotional stress that comes with assigning fault and proving it in a court of law.
Further afield, April 2019 marked a momentous milestone in the UK as the government overhauled the divorce system by implementing new legislation, including the right to a no-fault separation. This new law removes the need for partners in marriages and civil partnerships to apportion blame and show evidence in court, the Financial Times reports. The new law also prohibits the other spouse from challenging the divorce petition.
What are the Underlying Issues of No-Fault Divorce?
The benefits of this separation notwithstanding, there are many problems associated with pursuing no-fault divorces. Firstly, it allows the spouse who orchestrated the marriage breakdown to be granted the decree, which means other decisions like division of assets, child custody, spousal support would be determined as such. The family court judge would not be considering which spouse was problematic and whether both partners played a hand in desecrating the union.

  1. No-Fault Divorces Reward Wrongdoers

For example, if the marriage ended due to incidents of domestic violence where one or both partners routinely fought and exchanged verbal abuses, the judge overlooks this when deciding upon custody. Hence, the violent spouse could get full or shared custody with the kids, thus exposing them to more danger.
In the same issue of custody, no-fault divorce is often used by mothers to get full custody of the kids at the expense of fathers who also have parental rights. The father could be entirely innocent and yet denied his rights to raise children the same way fathers in regular marriages do. Children are used as pawns to hurt the other spouse who didn’t qualify for full custody, and as they grow, this toxic environment becomes palpable.
Moreover, when a scorned woman has no grounds to argue in her favor, decisions on spousal and child support may not be objective, thus lending her to economic strife. By hiring a Los Angeles Divorce Attorney you will save yourself from downsizing your living standards after divorce.

  1. No-Fault Divorce Undermines Couples Therapy

Divorce hearings are expedited, and the spouse seeking a divorce can have a decree issued within thirty days, although the duration varies from state to state. This swift manner of handling things means there is not much time for reflection, especially for couples filing in states that don’t require a six-month trial separation. One party could be so consumed with anger that they don’t wish to find resolutions such as attending couples’ therapy. For instance, a wife who suddenly learns that her husband has gambled a significant portion of their retirement money may file for a no-fault divorce to stop the bleeding. Such rage-filled action leaves no room for discussions, soul searching, or even consideration for the children and how a divorce may affect them.
Considering the above example, the wife takes advantage of the accessibility of divorce and throws out any possibility of trying to make things work. A no-fault divorce can be misused to make a mockery of the sacred institution of marriage, especially for couples that have not been married for long, say less than five years. These couples would dissolve a union only to move on with another partner, and the same issues would crop up so they would get divorced again. Sooner than later, people could find themselves with multiple divorces under their belt, and this cannot be good for anyone. The standard idea that if one spouse wants out of a marriage, then they should be granted a divorce decree promotes this sort of behavior.

  1. No-Fault Divorce May Promote Cycle of Abuse

When a spouse has been verbally and physically abusive, they are not held accountable for their actions in a no-fault divorce. As per the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), three in every ten women and one in every ten men have suffered physical violence, stalking, or even rape at the hands of an intimate partner. More so, these victims reported experiencing at least one adverse effect of relentless abuse such as PTSD, missing work, or crisis support.  Violence in relationships happens when one spouse feels at liberty to exercise power and control over the other, so they mistreatment them to gain and sustain that control.
While both partners may abuse each other, abusive relationships, usually have one party as the primary, steady source of power and control. In a no-fault divorce, the aggrieved spouse does not have to explain what transpired and the aggressor may go scot-free, which means the same cycle may repeat itself with another partner.

  1. No-Fault Divorce Encourages Multiple Separations

If someone has been married several times, family and friends may start looking at you sideways thinking perhaps you are the problem? Ending things with one, two, three, or more spouses cannot undoubtedly be their fault, and the finger-pointing carries on so much that your children may assign blame on you.
Starter marriages are another concept that has gained momentum among people in their twenties who get married purposely to get the look and feel of marital unions only to opt out when problems make an entry. These people argue starter marriages teach them more life lessons than cohabiting would and with no-fault divorce being legal in every state, they know dissolving a domestic partnership or marriage is simple. In this age of dating apps like Bumble, Tinder, and Zoosk which are not only addictive but promote unrealistic ideas about relationships.
According to the author of Couples: The Truth, the longevity of marriage depends upon the reasons for getting hitched. People seeking the romantic-comedy fantasy of a soul mate, wanting to make a big splash on their big day, or imagine marriage will solve every problem and bring lasting happiness, don’t fare too well. Statistics on marriages indicate divorce rates as follows: starter marriages (50%); second marriages (67%); and third marriages (73%). Alarmingly, these figures show that the likelihood of divorce increases with every subsequent union, and therefore, the notion of “third time ‘s the charm” is defective. No-Fault divorce makes it possible and potentially painless to ask for and get a decree to dissolve a union without investing much thought.

  1. No-Fault Divorce and Raising Children

First-time divorces, even when a no-fault divorce is pursued – are not accessible when children are in the equation. You may ask and get full custody or reach a joint-custody situation, but such agreements are susceptible to disputes. What if their father changes schedules the last minute? How about introducing children to new love interests? There are many instances where the dreaded step-mother becomes a real-life nightmare for children, and they could end up being mistreated, adding to the trauma of separation. Even when the step-parent is being cordial, the very idea that another man or woman has a stake in raising your children may not sit well with you. If your circumstances warrant full custody, you need a qualified Los Angeles Divorce Attorney to fight for the best interest of your children.
Explaining divorce, let alone multiple divorces, is not easy, and parents who seek this channel must be wary of the short term and long term effects of separation on children. Short term effects include irritability, mood changes, anxiety, and disillusionment, where children lack sufficient emotional support to help them understand what is happening. Long term effects of divorce include behavioral problems, substance abuse in teenage and early adult, stunted progress at school, and failed relationships upon reaching adulthood.

  1. No-Fault Divorce Fails to Address Problems

Knowing how easy getting a divorce is, people give up trying, and the spouse who gets fed up sooner files a petition. More than likely, one or both spouses will start dating again and go down the aisle within two to three years. Some people move on much faster – especially those who were already in other romantic relationships – getting married soon after being officially divorced. Jumping right into another union without taking time to rethink one’s choices and engaging in some intensive self-improvement means the same problems may follow.
As per a couples therapist, our relationships reflexively follow patterns set at the onset of life right when the primary caregivers were nurturing us. This dominant influence remains and manifests positively (e.g., communicating openly with your partner) or negatively (being confrontational and demeaning). Hidden demons like unresolved conflict, failed relationships, or alcoholism must be confronted, or they will continue controlling your behavior, thus destroying future relationships.
In sum, a no-fault divorce is ostensibly an on-demand system with “the self” at the heart of it where this self makes a life-altering decision on behalf of their spouse and children. The entire family must deal with the fallout to fulfill the wishes of the separating spouse who cannot stand being in the marriage any longer. The legal process of divorce court and ensuing custody issues happen pretty fast, but this doesn’t mean children are not hurt. The fact remains that parents are not together anymore, and this feeling is unsettling even for older children not to mention dealing with the inevitable drama of their separated parents dating again. In the end, divorce has the same ramifications on a family, and no-fault divorce is just a more comfortable way out from drawn-out legal battles.

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