Justia Lawyer Rating
Justia Lawyer Rating
National Bar Association
Fort Bend County Bar Association
State Bar of Texas
United States District Court of Southern Texas
Texas Supreme Court
Avvo Reviews Badge
Texas Bar College
Expertise Best Divorce Lawyers in Houston

No-Fault Divorce vs. Fault Divorce: What's the Difference?

No-Fault Divorce vs. Fault Divorce: What's the Difference?Fault and no-fault divorce are two different types of divorce proceedings that could be available in certain states. Fault-based divorces involve proving that one spouse is legally at fault for the dissolution of the marriage, such as adultery or criminal activity. In contrast, a no-fault divorce occurs when one or both spouses simply cite “irreconcilable differences” or another reason as grounds for terminating their marriage. In some states, only no-fault divorces are allowed, while some states still offer both options. It's important to determine which type of divorce is available in your state before making any decisions or filing paperwork associated with a divorce petition.

In order to file for either type of divorce, you'll need to indicate a reason for ending the marriage on your petition for divorce. It's always best to discuss this issue with an experienced attorney first since it can have major legal implications on how you proceed from there. After that, understanding the answers to common questions about grounds for divorce can help provide more clarity on which path might be best suited for you and your partner's situation. 

What Is a "No-Fault" Divorce?

A no-fault divorce is a type of divorce that eliminates the need to prove grounds for the divorce, such as adultery or abuse. Instead, couples can cite irreconcilable differences or incompatibility as the basis for their decision to end the marriage. This type of divorce is becoming increasingly popular because it allows a couple to end their marriage without having to assign blame or point fingers at one another.

No-fault divorces are available in all states and districts, though specific grounds may vary from state to state. These grounds typically include irreconcilable differences, incompatibility, or an irretrievable breakdown in the marriage. The beauty of this kind of divorce is that it allows both parties to move on with their lives without having nasty battles over fault and blame to add even more heartache to an already difficult situation. As such, many couples turn towards this route when they’re ready to part ways and move on with their lives separately.

What Is a "Fault" Divorce?

Fault divorce, also known as traditional divorce or contested divorce, is a type of divorce in which one party must prove the other’s fault that contributed to the demise of their marriage. In most cases, this involves proving infidelity or misconduct on behalf of the accused spouse. Some states still recognize fault-based divorces, while other states are no-fault states, meaning that neither party is held responsible for the marriage’s failure in court.

In order to obtain a fault-based divorce, at least one spouse must prove that the other person's behavior led to the end of the marriage. Common grounds for such dissolution include adultery, cruelty (inflicting unnecessary emotional or physical pain), and abandonment. It is important to note that each state has different laws regarding what constitutes a valid reason for a fault-based divorce, so consulting with an experienced attorney can help participants prepare for trial and understand their rights. Additionally, due to its lengthy and often expensive proceedings compared to no-fault options like mediation or collaboration law, obtaining a fault-based divorce may not be an attractive option depending on a couple's current situation.

Is it Possible for a Spouse to Impede a Court's Decision to Grant a Divorce?

For couples seeking a quick, no-fault divorce, a spouse can neither grant nor deny the court its ability to grant the divorce. In other words, there is no way for either spouse to prevent a court from granting a no-fault divorce. In cases of irreconcilable differences leading to a request for divorce, even if one spouse objects, a no-fault divorce may still be justified.

The only thing that might be able to prevent a fault-based divorce from being granted by the court is if one spouse convinces the court that any allegation of fault is false. Additionally, if wrongdoing did occur but the offending spouse presents an explanation or defense for it such as condonation (that is when someone silently approved of another's actions) then the court may take this into consideration and it might not result in the dissolution of marriage.

Is State Residency a Requirement for Obtaining a Divorce in That State?

Getting a divorce is an emotionally challenging time, and you don’t need the additional stress that comes with figuring out where to file. Each state has its own legal requirements regarding residency that must be met before filing for a divorce. Generally speaking, states require both spouses to meet the minimum residency requirement of at least three months, while some states may even mandate a full year of residency before filing. In order to receive approval for your divorce proceedings, you will need to provide proof of residence showing that you have lived in the same state for at least the required amount of time.

There are only a select few states that do not have any type of length requirement set for resident status when filing for divorce; in these cases, all that is typically needed is proof of residence at the time you file the papers. No matter which states you are filing from or living in prior to filing, it is important to verify what criteria each state requires in order to file for a divorce so that you can be sure your documents and paperwork are valid and current when presented for review.

Is it Possible for a Court to Enforce a Divorce That Was Granted in a Different State?

One important factor in determining whether or not a court can enforce an out-of-state divorce is if one spouse meets the residency requirement of the state or country where the divorce was obtained. As long as that party meets this requirement, courts all over the nation will recognize the divorce. However, to ensure that any decisions handed down by a court concerning property division, alimony, custody and child support are legally binding on both parties, it is necessary for them to have authority over both parties involved in the dispute. This means that either consent must be granted by the nonresident spouse (by appearing at a court hearing or signing an affidavit acknowledging they received court documents) or they must obey any rulings from the out-of-state court such as payment of ordered child support.

Talk to a Lawyer

An experienced divorce lawyer in Harris County, Galveston County, Fort Bend County, Montgomery County, Brazoria County, Houston, Sugar Land, Missouri City, and Stafford, Texas at Thornton Esquire Law Group, PLLC, can help you with your divorce case. Contact us today at www.thorntonesquirelawgroup.com for a free consultation.

Client Reviews
Selecting an attorney can be one of the most difficult decisions a person has to make. In what seems like an overwhelming sea of attorneys who do you choose? Are they qualified, compassionate, and are they willing to fight for you without compromising their integrity? When faced with this decision in 2016 I received this and more when I retained Rahlita Thornton as my attorney. Since 2016 she has represented me on several court cases and I've never been disappointed. She is well versed and very knowledgeable on many aspects of the law. Attorney Thornton and her staff work diligently to ensure no stone is left unturned and justice is served. When I was crippled with fear, bullied, and felt like giving up she was my voice. She is highly recommend and I'm truly blessed to have her in my life. TTW
It was a divine power that drove me to call. There are ton of lawyers online but I knew this attorney was the one for me. C.B., Divorce Client
Attention & communication is very good when working with this professional legal team. They are here to help you whenever questions arise and explain details as they go. Thank you for taking the time to accept my case & working with me. P.L.