Grounds for Divorce – Must Someone Be At Fault?

Most divorces tend to focus on the “blame game.” For example, “My spouse cheated on me!” or “My spouse has deserted me!” All you have to do is look at the headlines in the newspaper. Most stories focus on the adulterous affairs of a celebrity spouse. Does Christie Brinkley or A-Rod ring a bell? Yet, is the question of which spouse had the affair relevant for the purposes of filing for divorce?

In some states, there must be a legitimate reason to file for divorce. Florida takes a different route, neither spouse needs to be at fault for a dissolution of marriage proceeding to be initiated. Florida is a no-fault state, and unlike other states, in Florida there is no waiting period to initiate proceedings when fault is absent.

As long ago as 1948, the Florida Supreme Court recognized the wisdom of divorcing husbands and wives who no longer wished to remain married to each other, regardless of fault. In Florida, if you want a no-fault divorce, you must assert that it is “irretrievably broken” and the to test is determine whether the marriage is irretrievably broken, for whatever reason or cause – no matter who is “at-fault” – is whether the marriage relationship is no longer viable.

The court will also look at other factors. Is reconciliation impossible? Whether as a matter of fact, has the marriage ceased to exist? If you want a divorce in Florida, the court considers your state of mind above all else. Common reasons that have been accepted by the court include: no love, no companionship and no home life which have caused parties to drift apart or simply make the couple unsuitable for each other. In fact, stating “I don’t love him or her anymore and I don’t want to stay married” should be enough evidence for the court.

But beware! Although fault of one party is not needed for the dissolution of the marriage itself, it is a factor the court may consider in determining alimony, equitably distributing marital assets and liabilities, determining parental responsibility, and awarding attorney’s fees. So, although fault isn’t important to start a divorce proceeding, it may be important when the marriage is over.

For more advice on filing for divorce, or divorce in general, please contact an attorney.

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