Do You Need to Assign Fault in a Divorce?

You’re getting divorced, and it’s your spouse’s fault. You found explicit pictures and text messages on their phone. Outraged, you confronted them and discovered that they were having an affair with the person they were texting.

After finding out, you quickly decided to end the marriage. It’s not what you would have wanted after 10 years and with two kids, but you feel like your spouse forced your hand. You may have filed for divorce, but the end of the marriage is still their fault.

This clearly matters when talking to friends and family members about it, but what about it in a legal sense? Is there any reason to assign fault?

Fault no longer plays the role that it once did

In the courtroom, the fault is no longer that important. For decades, no-fault divorce laws have been sweeping the country, and they’re now the norm. You can get divorced if you blame your spouse, if they blame you or if no one is to blame. There does not have to be any reason.

Moreover, fault generally doesn’t impact what the court decides. They’re not going to give your ex less parenting time because they had an affair. They’re not going to give you extra assets because you’ve been wronged. The court isn’t worried about why you’re ending the marriage. They just rule based on current laws when dividing assets and parenting time.

In rare cases, the reason for the split can make a difference. For instance, if your spouse gave a lot of marital assets to the person they had the affair with, you may be able to claim you deserve more of the remaining assets to make up for it. If your spouse was abusive, you may be able to keep them from getting parenting time. But, in most cases, you do not need to say anyone is at fault and it won’t really matter even if you do.

What steps should you take?

Instead of thinking about why you’re getting divorced, take the time to really consider all of the legal options you have, your goals for the divorce and what steps to take as you work toward those goals.

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