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Understanding State Divorce Laws

If you are considering filing for divorce or are party to a divorce currently under way, it’s important to understand your corresponding state divorce laws and how they affect your case. Every state is different in how it requires you to go about getting a divorce, and some states may have very stringent requirements to do so. Some important aspects of state divorce laws to examine are the differences between at-fault and no-fault divorces, what these mean in regard to timelines and rights to marital property, and possible defenses your attorney may choose to use.

At-Fault vs. No-Fault Divorces

A no-fault divorce is one in which the petitioner, or person asking for the divorce, does not have to place blame on the respondent, or their current spouse. Each state does require, however, that the petitioner provide a reason for the divorce that is acceptable according to state divorce laws. Many times, this reason may be simply stating that the couple is incompatible, is experiencing irreconcilable differences, or there has been an irremediable breakdown of the marriage.

At-fault divorces are only allowed in some states, and include grounds for divorce that place blame on the respondent party for the failed marriage. These faults may be identified as committing adultery, committing a crime, or cruelty and abuse. Of course, the respondent may also answer a petition for divorce placing blame with the petitioner on one of these grounds as well.

Required Separation Periods in State Divorce Laws

No-fault divorces will usually require that a couple live separately for at least a couple of months before the divorce will be finalized. However, at-fault divorce claims will normally allow the couple to bypass this waiting period. In addition, if a spouse proves the failed marriage is the fault of the other, this may entitle them to a larger portion of the marital property during final arrangements.

Comparative Rectitude in Some State Divorce Laws

Some state divorce laws allow for a doctrine called “comparative rectitude.” This doctrine was a concept that was founded for cases where both spouses are at fault for the failed marriage. The divorce court will determine which spouse is at fault to a lesser degree, and grants the divorce to this spouse under the comparative rectitude doctrine.

Preventing a Divorce According to Your State Divorce Laws

If your spouse files for divorce and claims you are at fault under your state divorce laws, you can cause it to be changed to a no-fault divorce if you prove you were not at fault. Some other defenses claimed in a divorce, depending upon the corresponding state divorce laws, include condonation, connivance, provocation and collusion. 

Condonation is used when one spouse tolerates adultery (or another offense) committed by the other, but then tries to file for a fault divorce. Connivance applies in cases where one spouse purposely caused the other to commit an act that can be used in a fault divorce. Provocation is claimed if the defending spouse committed the faulty act as a result of the other’s actions, and collusion is used when the two parties falsify a fault divorce but one decides to back out before it is finalized.

Understanding state divorce laws when filing or being targeted with a petition for divorce is vital to protect your rights and claims to marital property. Your divorce attorney will be educated in local laws and procedures, and can further advise you on the appropriate actions during your legal battle.


For Information on State Divorce Laws, Please Visit the Following:

California Divorce Law

Florida Divorce Law

Georgia Divorce Laws

Texas Divorce Laws

Virginia Divorce Laws



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