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All states in the United States recognize no-fault divorce. However, some states require couples to live separately for some period before either of them can file for divorce. New York was the last state to embrace the law in 2010. The no-fault divorce was first introduced in California in 1970. Ronald Reagan, the then governor, who is also a divorcee, approved the law. In the 1970s and 1980s, many other states across America adopted the no-fault divorce law. It has been almost fifty years since the introduction of the law. Still, there is an intense debate surrounding the no-fault divorce law. 

While some people are in support of the law, others harshly criticize it. The requirements of the law may vary from one state to the other. It is essential to understand no-fault divorce, why it was introduced, and the various issues that surround it. A divorce lawyer can help you understand these aspects and your eligibility for a no-fault divorce. 
Understanding No-fault Divorce
Before the introduction of no-fault divorce, it was mandatory for a spouse to state a particular reason for divorce. It did not matter whether both partners were in favor of divorce; they had to prove that there was a fault such as cruelty or adultery, which prompted the divorce. As a reason, many couples came up with all sorts of lies to support their requests for divorce. In the case of no-fault divorce, you are not supposed to prove any fault in the marriage. Therefore, no-fault divorce is a more honest approach to divorce proceedings, as spouses do not have to fabricate reasons for divorce. Instead, the causes of divorce are incompatibility, separation, or irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. No spouse considers the other responsible.
This law makes marriage the only institution bound by a legal agreement that allows a party to end the contract without the approval of the other party and without facing any penalty for breach of contract. The supporters of no-fault divorce argue that it helps protect women as it changes the power balance in a marriage. It forces men to behave themselves, as they understand that their wives have the right to walk away from the union if they are not happy. The supporters argue that there is proof of a significant drop in cases of domestic violence after the introduction of no-fault divorce laws. 
Supporters of no-fault divorce consider it less demeaning and demoralizing to the parties involved. Under no-fault divorce, there is no need to prove that the other party has done anything wrong. It helps spouses to protect their reputations, as their faults are not disclosed during divorce proceedings. Neither spouse faces accusations of wrongdoing, nor will a spouse have to lie and tarnish the name of the other. 
No-fault divorce is particularly important where children are involved. Even if one spouse may be to blame for the divorce, this form of divorce allows the children to maintain a good relationship with both parents. The shortcomings of the guilty parent are not disclosed, and the children will not grow up thinking that one parent is wrong or that one parent caused the divorce. 
However, a no-fault divorce may turn sour when children are involved. When determining the custody of children, the court always considers the best interest of the child. For them to appear like a good parent, couples may take adversarial roles to prove that the other parent is not fit to gain custody of the children. Therefore, even if the process of no-fault divorce is non-adversarial, custody battles may change its approach.  
Issues Against No-fault Divorce
Since the introduction of no-fault divorce, critics have pointed out numerous problems that make this law unfavorable. The supporters of no-fault divorce argue that it helps empower women by giving them the freedom to walk out of a union if they are not happy. However, critics say that divorce goes both ways, and men can also leave their wives. The no-fault divorce has faced criticism even from its approvers. For example, after approving the new no-fault divorce law in California, Ronald Reagan later called it the biggest mistake of his political career. 
A political scientist at Howard University points out that no-fault divorce helps to reward wrongdoers. According to him, the divorce reduces the importance of marital binding agreements at the expense of society. He further argues that the divorce law creates a leeway for women to take children away from their fathers even when the fathers have done no wrong. Stephen does not offer any solution since he states that despite divorce being banned, people will still separate, commit adultery, or even create a hostile home for children. 
According to a paper written and published in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, the approval of no-fault divorce resulted in a six-fold increase in divorce cases in just two years after almost a century of stable rates of divorce. The author further argues that the law also led to an increased rate of women joining the workforce and increased the feminization of poverty. The no-fault divorce also increased the age at which people married and raised the number of hours worked in a week. 
In 2010, as New York approved the no-fault divorce law, the state chapter of The National Organization of Women spoke out and condemned the measure. Some arguments against no-fault divorce include: 

  • Limited Negotiating Power of The Less Powerful Partner

According to the case presented by The National Organization of Women, no-fault divorce limits the negotiating power of the less powerful partner in a marriage, often the wife. The co-chair of the Coalition for Divorce Reform wrote about her unsuccessful fight to save her marriage. She argues that no-fault divorce does not value some critical reasons for resisting one spouse’s move to end a marriage. She argues that if the society cannot tolerate arranged marriages; it should not tolerate unilateral divorce where the power to end a marriage rests in one person’s hand. 

  • Divorce Becomes Too Easy

There has been an increase in divorce cases since the introduction of no-fault divorce law. Critics argue that the law makes divorce too easy. Before 1970, divorce was uncommon and relatively challenging to get. The fault was required, and one partner must have committed a sin or a crime that justified divorce. Such sins included adultery, intoxication, cruelty, or abandonment. Many benefits come with growing up in a home with two parents. A system that puts some barriers to divorce among parents is necessary. This system ensures that children grow up in a proper family setting.  

  • Unfavorable for the Financially Weak Spouse

The no-fault divorce may pose adverse financial constraints to the financially weak spouse in a relationship. In some marriage settings, a wife puts a hold on her career goals to take care of the children. This family setup makes a husband the provider in the family. If the husband were to walk away from the marriage, it would put a strain on the wife. It would lower the standards of living of the wife and the children. Despite such outcomes, a wife would have no legal grounds to prevent the husband from leaving.  

  • Abandoning Responsibilities

In arguing against no-fault divorce, critics state that some spouses may take advantage and evade parenting duties. For instance, a spouse may find parenting to be too much of a burden on their career or freedom. As a result, they may walk away, leaving the other partner to look after the children alone. 
Efforts to Limit No-Fault Divorce 
Some attempts have been put in place to eliminate various aspects of no-fault divorce. Some states have established a form of marriage called covenant marriage as a way of amending this divorce law. Louisiana was the first state to develop covenant marriage in 1997 and was later followed by Arizona and Arkansas. For a covenant marriage, a couple accepts limited causes for divorce and agrees to premarital counseling. The counseling sessions emphasize the nature, responsibilities, and purpose of marriage. Couples sign a statement declaring that covenant marriage is for life. The inception of covenant marriage has seen very few couples get married under the law in the three states. However, even with such measures in place, a couple can still seek a divorce in an alternative state where covenant marriages are not recognizable by law.  
Is No-Fault Divorce the Cause of High Divorce Rate?
Currently, more than 80% of marriages in the U.S. are terminated through no-fault divorce. This type of divorce eliminates the need for the aggrieved party to show that the other partner violated marriage vows for approval of dissolution. After the approval of no-fault divorce, there was a surge in divorce cases in the 1970s. Is no-fault divorce entirely to blame for increased divorce rate? Some other factors that have contributed to an increased divorce rate in America include: 
Workplace Equality– With women empowerment, women are earning adequate income that can support families. As a result, women do not have to cling to abusive marriages as they can walk away and still manage to afford the high cost of living. In the past, women had no economic alternative to sticking with an abusive spouse. With their recent empowerment, women often choose to leave a difficult marriage. 
Heterogeneity– Americans have unique individual value systems and religious attitudes. Also, people of different family backgrounds and ethnicities get married. It is common to pair with a person with entirely different viewpoints from yours. Although such differences are reconcilable, it becomes difficult to get along and establish a harmonious marriage with someone with whom you have so many differences.
Changing Gender Roles– In the past, defined gender roles existed where men were the primary breadwinners, and the women were homemakers. However, currently, women have equal opportunities as men to join the workforce. This equality has resulted in conflict over issues such as childcare, housekeeping, and domestic schedules. These issues create more possible conflict areas that may result in divorce.
Filing for No-Fault Divorce
In addition to irreconcilable differences or irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, there may be some other requirements while filing for a no-fault divorce. The requirements will vary depending on the state. It is always wise to seek the guidance of a divorce lawyer in your state if you are considering filing for a divorce. Some requirements may include:
Prior Separation– In some states, you must have separated with your partner for a certain period before seeking a no-fault divorce. In some states, you may need to have separated for a few months while in others, the required separation period may be up to two years. The laws are always changing, thus the importance of checking with an attorney before getting started. 
Residency Requirements-Most states have residency requirements for people filing for no-fault divorce, but some few states do not. For instance, some states require you to have resided there for more than six months before initiating divorce proceedings. Some states are very strict with residency requirements, yet others offer some ways around this requirement. 
Irretrievable Breakdown of Marriage– The definition of irretrievable breakdown of marriage varies from one state to the other. In some states, it implies the inability to get along with your spouse for more than six months.
Can You Avoid Trial in a No-Fault Divorce?
It is possible to avoid trial in the case of uncontested no-fault divorce. If you and your spouse agree concerning issues such as child support, visitation, custody, division of assets, and debts, you may have your divorce case settled out of court.  Under the guidance of a divorce lawyer who understands the law, you can avoid the court procedures. 
You may also have a no-fault contested divorce, which is often settled in court.  This is in a case where you cannot agree with your spouse on the terms of the divorce.  
Many issues surround no-fault divorce. On the one hand, the divorce seems quicker, less expensive, convenient, and less stressful than a divorce based on fault. On the other hand, some criticisms surround the divorce, it is often termed as unfair to one party, and it appears as a means of encouraging family breakups. In such circumstances, you may get confused as you consider initiating a no-fault divorce process. You may have many unanswered questions. It is always wise to seek legal counsel to help you navigate through such a case.

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