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What’s The Difference Between A Fault-Based And A No-Fault Divorce?

What’s the Difference Between a Fault-Based and a No-Fault Divorce?

Divorce can be a turbulent time filled with deep emotions. In addition to moral support, you also need legal support to help guide you through the process and answer your questions. There is a lot of legal jargon surrounding the divorce process, which may be confusing. How do you know what’s best for you and meets your needs? Do you file a fault-based divorce or a no-fault divorce?

At Hardt Law, P.L.L.C., our experienced divorce attorney knows how to evaluate your situation and help you choose the type of divorce that meets your needs and addresses your unique situation.

What Is a Fault-Based Divorce?

There are two distinct types of divorce in Virginia: fault-based and no-fault divorces. In a fault-based divorce, you maintain that you are seeking a divorce because your spouse’s behavior or wrongful actions caused irreparable harm to your relationship, and there is no chance for reconciliation.

You must have grounds to file a fault-based divorce in Virginia. Common grounds for seeking a fault-based divorce include the following:

  • Adultery
  • Abandonment for at least one year
  • Cruelty
  • Imprisonment for more than one year upon felony criminal conviction

In terms of fault-based divorce, abandonment is distinct from separation. Abandonment occurs when a spouse intentionally leaves the marriage against the other partner’s wishes.

What Is a No-Fault Divorce?

Virginia also allows a spouse to file a no-fault divorce. Couples filing for a no-fault divorce in Virginia must only prove that they have lived separately, without cohabitating or sexual relations, for at least one year. You can shorten this waiting period if you have no minor children by entering into a separation agreement. If you share no minor children, filing a separation agreement can reduce the required “living apart” time to six months.

What’s the Difference Between a Fault-Based and a No-Fault Divorce in Virginia?

The most apparent difference between a fault-based and no-fault divorce is that in a no-fault divorce, you need not accuse your partner of misconduct. To file a fault-based divorce, you must claim your partner has broken your marriage by engaging in inappropriate conduct like adultery or cruelty. What makes fault-based divorces more challenging is that you must prove your partner engaged in the conduct you claim in court.

Gathering and preserving evidence to strengthen your case can be difficult. It also tends to make fault-based divorces more contentious. Because of the tension in many fault-based divorces, settling these cases in court can take longer. However, if you can prove that your spouse behaved badly and it ruined your marriage, the court could grant you a larger portion of the marital assets in recompense.

In comparison, other than the one-year waiting period, if couples agree on most major divorce issues, no-fault divorces can be resolved relatively quickly. Unlike fault-based divorce cases, you do not need to prove anyone’s conduct harmed the marriage. You can:

  • Agree that you are incompatible as partners;
  • Agree that there will be no reconciliation;
  • Live separately for six months or one year, depending on whether there are minor children; then
  • File for divorce.

Generally, no-fault divorce cases are less expensive and time-consuming than fault-based cases because there is no need to prove misconduct.

Learn More About Your Options by Speaking with an Experienced Virginia Divorce Attorney

Are you considering filing for divorce? Do you need help navigating the legal challenges of the divorce process? It’s time to discuss your options with an experienced Virginia Beach divorce attorney from Hardt Law, P.L.L.C. Our compassionate legal team is ready to help you move forward with your life.

Contact our Virginia Beach office at (757) 962-5588 today to arrange for a confidential case evaluation.


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