Today, I am going to tackle a frequently asked question and also – dispel a divorce myth by pointing out an important distinction.
The frequently asked question is what is a no-fault divorce?
Years ago the only way to get a divorce was to prove that your spouse had done something bad, wrong – or something that was recognized by that particular state’s law as a justification for divorce. Those reasons, also called “grounds” could be anything from abuse (or cruelty), abandonment, adultery, mental illness or criminal conviction. In other words, your spouse had to be at fault in breaking up the marriage. This made it a challenge to obtain a divorce, and it also drove the cost of the divorce up as well as making the divorce process last a whole lot longer because a lot of time, effort, and money was spent proving that the other party was at fault. New York was the last state – the last hold out – and now all 50 states have some form of no fault divorce –especially where both parties consent to the divorce.
So now here’s the myth – the myth is that people think that because you don’t have to prove fault to get a divorce that people’s bad behaviors don’t matter anymore.
Here’s the truth –
The truth is that there a distinction – and this is an important distinction – between having to prove fault just to get out of the marriage – and having the bad behavior be of some sort of consequence in the divorce.
So an example – in Florida – you only have to plead that the marriage is irretrievably broken to get a divorce - that does not mean that if one party has committed adultery, it doesn’t matter at all. In fact, if that person spent money, or wasted or dissipated marital funds, those funds can be recaptured and counted in the overall equitable distribution scheme.
So bottom line for today’s pearl of wisdom –
No Fault – means you don’t have to prove fault to get a divorce – it doesn’t mean that bad behavior never comes into play – in fact, it can and it does.
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See you tomorrow for Thursday Divorce Thoughts.