What’s the difference between a no-fault and fault-based divorce?

On Behalf of | Mar 8, 2022 | Divorce |

Thousands of couples file for divorce every month in Pennsylvania. The vast majority of these filings are no-fault divorces.

Either spouse can claim an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage to seek a no-fault divorce. However, spouses can also choose to file a fault-based divorce for grounds like cruelty, adultery and abandonment.

What makes a fault-based divorce different from a no-fault divorce?

The court assigns responsibility to one person

In a no-fault divorce, neither spouse has legal responsibility for the outcome of a marriage. However, a divorce filed on fault-based grounds may ultimately be the fault of one of the spouses.

People from certain backgrounds, such as religions that generally don’t allow divorce, may feel that a fault-based divorce is important, especially if they want to later remarry with the blessings of their congregation. 

The person filing has to prove something

There is no way to prove how you feel about or relate to your spouse. No-fault divorces simply require that one spouse feels comfortable stating under oath in a courtroom that the relationship is beyond saving. Your spouse cannot refute your claim, allowing for a simpler divorce process.

If someone wants to divorce their spouse and blame them by claiming they had an extramarital affair, the courts will require proof before officially allocating blame to that person. In cases involving incarceration or institutionalization as the grounds for divorce, it may be quite easy to establish fault. Situations involving adultery or cruelty can sometimes be harder to prove.

Understanding the key differences between no-fault and fault-based divorces can help you decide the best approach to ending your marriage.