What Is The Difference Between At-Fault and No-Fault Divorce?

When a marriage has broken down for various reasons, the divorcing parties will need to determine which type of divorce to file for. Here in Massachusetts, a divorce can be filed as “at-fault” or “no-fault,” and either of these can be contested or uncontested. Whether you choose to file an at-fault or no-fault divorce, you will need an experienced divorce attorney to help to sort out the details and fight for the results that you deserve. 

What Constitutes An At-Fault Divorce

While a majority of divorces are the result of the marriage simply falling apart over time, others are the result of a specific act or acts by one spouse after which marriage cannot and should not continue. In an at-fault divorce, one spouse may argue that the other spouse did something which caused the marriage to fail, though the spouse alleging fault must prove his or her assertions. 

According to Massachusetts General Laws Part I, Title III, Chapter 208, Section 1 these are the seven grounds or reasons for an at-fault divorce:

  • Adultery
  • Desertion
  • Gross and confirmed habits of intoxication
  • Cruel and abusive treatment
  • Non-support
  • Impotency
  • A prison sentence of 5 or more years  

What Is A No-Fault Divorce

A “no-fault” divorce is a divorce where the marriage is broken beyond repair but neither spouse blames the other. In Massachusetts, the no-fault divorce grounds is called “Irretrievable Breakdown of Marriage.” This option can potentially make it easier for couples to reach an amicable resolution without having to look for blame, as well as preserve parent-child relationships and spare legal fees. While no-fault divorces are quite common, some family court judges may require proof of the inability for the parties to reconcile.

In Massachusetts there are two options for a no fault divorce:

  • File “1A” for an uncontested no-fault divorce. This divorce filing is for when both spouses agree that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. The divorcing spouses will have reached a written agreement about alimony child support, alimony, child custody, and dividing marital assets. 
  • File “1B” for a contested no-fault divorce. This filing is for when one spouse believes there is an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage or both spouses believe the marriage has ended but are in disagreement about alimony, child custody, child support, or marital property issues. In a contested no-fault divorce, if you and your spouse are able to come to an agreement, you can file a request to change the divorce complaint from a 1B to a 1A divorce.

Hire An Experienced Cape Cod Divorce Attorney

Whether you’re filing an at fault or no fault divorce, the first step is hiring an experienced divorce lawyer who you can trust. Attorney Michael F. Suarez has more than 20 years experience in family law in Buzzards Bay, Cape Cod and throughout southeastern Massachusetts. Contact Attorney Mike Suarez today at (508) 759-1122 for a free consultation.

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