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Understanding Fault vs. No-Fault Divorce: What You Need to Know

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Divorce can be emotionally and financially draining, no matter where you live. However, the legal process of getting a divorce can differ from state to state. One of the critical differences in divorce law is whether the state is a “no-fault” or “fault-based” divorce state.

In a no-fault divorce state, like Florida, either spouse can petition for divorce, citing that the marriage is “irretrievably broken” or similar language without having to prove who is responsible for the breakdown of the marriage. In contrast, in a fault-based divorce state, the spouse who files for divorce must prove that their spouse is responsible for the breakdown of the marriage.

No-Fault Divorce in Florida

Florida is a no-fault divorce state. This means that to get a divorce in Florida; one spouse only needs to cite that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.” In other words, there is no need to provide a reason, fault or otherwise, for the divorce.

One of the benefits of a no-fault divorce is that it can be quicker and more straightforward than a fault-based divorce, as you will not need to prove the reason for the divorce, which can be time consuming and emotionally draining. However, it's important to note that there may still be legal disputes to resolve, such as dividing assets and determining child custody.

Fault Divorce in Other States

In states that allow for a fault-based divorce, there are typically specific grounds that must be proven for a divorce to be granted. These grounds can vary from state to state, but some common reasons for pursuing a fault-based divorce include the following:

  • Adultery
  • Physical or emotional abuse
  • Abandonment or desertion
  • Addiction or substance abuse
  • Mental illness
  • Incarceration

In these cases, the spouse alleging fault must provide evidence to the court to prove their case. This can include witness testimony, documentation, or even medical reports.

How Fault Can Impact the No-Fault Process

When a couple goes through a divorce, one of the most contentious issues can be the division of assets. Florida divorce courts follow an equitable distribution standard, which means that assets are divided fairly but not necessarily equally. However, there are situations in which one spouse may try to dissipate, or waste, marital assets to prevent the other spouse from getting a fair share.

In Florida, courts take the dissipation of assets very seriously. If a spouse is found to have dissipated assets, the court may award the other spouse a larger share of the remaining assets or may require the dissipating spouse to reimburse the other spouse for their portion of the wasted assets. Examples of dissipation of assets can include:

  • Selling property without the other spouse's consent or knowledge
  • Engaging in excessive gambling
  • Simply spending money on frivolous purchases without the other spouse's input
  • Spending money on an extramarital affair

For dissipation to be considered by the court, the dissipating spouse must have used marital assets for their benefit, not for a joint benefit or benefit of the marriage.

Overall, both spouses need to be transparent about their financial actions during a divorce proceeding in Florida. This can help ensure that both parties receive an equitable share of assets and help prevent the dissipation of marital assets. If you're going through a divorce in Florida, it's crucial to work with an experienced attorney who can help guide you through the process and ensure your rights are protected.

How Owenby Law, P.A. Can Help You Through Divorce

At Owenby Law, P.A., we understand how tough divorce can be and want to do everything possible to ease the process. Our experienced family law attorneys have helped numerous couples navigate Florida divorces, helping them make informed decisions that are tailored to their individual circumstances. We strive to provide our clients with the highest level of legal representation and will work diligently on your behalf throughout every step of the divorce process.

If you’re considering filing for a fault or no-fault divorce, don’t hesitate to contact us today at (904) 770-3141