What is the Difference Between a Fault and No Fault Divorce?

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Since 1971, Florida has been a state that does not require fault to be shown in order to obtain a divorce. Therefore, Florida is referred to as a “no fault” state. With no fault, you must only simply allege, and confirm, that the marriage is irretrievably broken. In 1971, the Florida legislature passed the Dissolution of Marriage Law. This action repealed the fault statute determination and stated that “fault need not be proved to entitle a spouse to the dissolution of marriage.” Prior to this action, however, couples had to prove fault by one of the parties to obtain a dissolution. Historically, the court sought to keep marriages intact, absent a sufficient reason for dissolution. They had a public policy of preserving the family unit and the sanctity of marriage. Therefore, they would require certain evidence and grounds to be presented before a divorce may be obtained. Some of these statutory grounds included: adultery, desertion or abandonment, abuse, incarceration, or impotency. With this removal of a requirement of designating fault to a party and proving such fault exists, the dissolution process became easier on the courts and couples. This removal of fault absolved the court of lengthy litigation, parties were engaging in a less adversarial process as they would be less likely to present damaging reputation evidence, and removed unnecessary information that might not pertain to the pertinent issues in a divorce case.

Although the legislation removed fault as an avenue to obtain a divorce, in some situations, these grounds of fault may still have an effect on your final divorce order. For instance, if you are incarcerated, the court will be able to take your criminal history into account when determining child custody or visitation schedules. Further, if you had an affair the court may take into account evidence, of how your affair affected your financial status and even your children. If the court finds your actions had such a detrimental effect on your children, or presents evidence of your lack of “moral fitness” as a parent, they will factor this into their determination and ensure your children are protected in the future. Further, if your affair dissipated marital funds or assets, they can compensate the faithful spouse and reduce the adulterer’s share of assets in order to rectify the waste in marital funds. Similarly, the financial expenditures on a paramour may be considered in an alimony award to compensate the faithful spouse to obtain the equitable relief necessary to replace the depleted assets.

If you are contemplating a divorce, it is important to understand the no fault concept. However, it is equally important to understand how some of the archaic grounds for divorce may still have an effect on your final judgment. Discuss your specific case with an experienced and knowledgeable Florida Divorce Attorney. We will be able to evaluate your case and fight for your needs during this time.

Speaking to an attorney at our Florida office is free of charge, and we accept calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Contact us at 850-307-5211 or complete an online contact form to get in touch with a member of our team today.

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