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In every state, some type of “no-fault” divorce is available.“No fault” means that the divorce isn’t based on someone being at fault for ending the marriage.The State-by-State Grounds for Divorce chart included here provides details on the legal reasons a spouse must give to request a divorce in each state. Traditionally, in order for a couple to obtain a divorce, one spouse had to prove that the other spouse was legally at fault.
The “guilty” spouse would usually have to pay a substantial amount of alimony (or receive less than he or she would otherwise be entitled to) or give up marital property to which he or she was otherwise entitled.
Today about three-fifths of the states still allow a spouse to allege fault in obtaining a divorce, on grounds such as: • adultery—sexual relations by a married person with someone other than the person’s spouse • mental cruelty—any act of inflicting unnecessary emotional pain, and • desertion—voluntary abandonment of someone by a spouse without the abandoned spouse’s consent.
This may have serious effects on how marital property is divided after divorce and whether you receive alimony (and how much).
Also, no matter what type of divorce is obtained, “fault” may be raised in a property or support negotiation or in a child custody or visitation hearing.
In some states, alimony and property division are not linked to fault.
For example, although a fault divorce is still available in Illinois, alimony is awarded and property divided regardless of fault.