Fault vs. No-Fault Divorces
Each state has its own statutory grounds (reasons) for divorce, typically classified as fault or no-fault divorces.
- A fault divorce requires evidence that wrongdoing was committed by one of the spouses. This commonly includes adultery, extended imprisonment, or abuse.
- A no-fault divorce can only take place when neither party can prove that the other engaged in wrongdoing. This commonly includes irreconcilable differences or the marriage being irretrievably broken. The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy is an excellent resource to help you manage conflict throughout the process of your divorce.
Contested vs. Uncontested Divorces
- A contested divorce is necessary when spouses are unable to reach an agreement on relevant issues. Contested divorce cases go before the court where a judge makes the final decision on each issue.
- An uncontested divorce means that the parties involved are able to reach mutual agreement on relevant issues such as alimony, child custody, child support, spousal support, and asset division.
Effects of Divorce
The American Psychological Association provides excellent advice on how to make your divorce as smooth as possible and the Nemours Foundation offers information on how to help your child through a divorce. Not only does divorce take a toll on your emotions, but it affects your federal income tax filing status as well. For some situations, it’s beneficial to postpone the legal divorce until the following year so that you can file with the married – filing jointly tax status.
How to File for Divorce
Although you can legally file for divorce without an attorney, it is strongly advisable to at least consult with an attorney before filing for divorce. A divorce lawyer can explain how the process of filing for divorce works, help you file the paperwork, and make sure your rights are protected. Below are the typical steps for the process of filing for divorce.
- File a document (complaint or petition) with your state’s court, asking the court to officially terminate your marriage.
- Have the divorce complaint or petition served to your spouse.
It’s important to note that divorce laws vary greatly from state to state. For example, many states have a ‘cooling-off’ period between the filing of the divorce papers and the finalized divorce. Divorce decrees are clear and binding agreements. Without expert representation it’s easy to make errors such as underestimating the value of your assets. Experienced divorce attorneys will verify that all of your paperwork is complete and that it accurately states your wishes. Because the laws governing divorce vary among states it’s important to obtain a divorce attorney who has specific experience in your particular state.