No Fault Divorce vs Fault Divorce

blue border with "no fault divorce vs fault divorce" in black writing and the freed marcroft divorce and family lawyers logo in the lower right hand corner.Many people wonder about no fault divorce versus fault divorce in Connecticut.

Connecticut is actually both a no fault divorce state and a for fault divorce state.

Please read on to learn more about no fault and at fault divorce — including the differences between the two.

What Are No Fault vs Fault Divorces?

When you file a divorce, you have to state the “grounds” — or the legal basis — for filing your divorce.   Connecticut has both no fault and fault divorce contained in Section 46b-40 of the Connecticut General Statutes.

Read: What are the Grounds for Divorce in Connecticut? 

What is a No Fault Divorce?

Simply put, a no fault divorce is one that is brought under one of the two no fault grounds available in Connecticut.

They are:

  • The marriage has broken down irretrievably
  • The parties have lived apart by reason of incompatibility for a continuous period of at least the eighteen months immediately prior to the service of the complaint and that there is no reasonable prospect that they will be reconciled

Read: Connecticut No Fault Divorce

Read: What is a “No Fault” Divorce in Connecticut?

What Does No Fault Divorce State Mean?

In a no fault divorce, neither spouse must prove that the other is “at fault” in order to be granted a divorce.  Rather, you prove that the marriage has irretrievably broken down with no reasonable prospect of reconciliation.  Importantly, either spouse’s testimony that the marriage has irretrievably broken down is sufficient for the court to order the divorce.  What that means is that in a no fault divorce, the court can grant a divorce that only one spouse wants or participates in.  In other words, it’s not required that you show wrongdoing by either party in order for a court to grant a no fault divorce.  That said, “fault” may be considered in the financial aspects of a no fault divorce.

Read: What Impact Does Adultery Have on Alimony?

Read: How Does Infidelity Affect Property Division?

What is a Fault Divorce?

It follows then, that an at fault divorce is one that is brought under one of the eight fault grounds available in Connecticut.

They are:

  • Adultery
  • Fraudulent contract
  • Willful desertion for one year with total neglect of duty
  • Seven years’ absence, during all of which period the absent party has not been heard from
  • Habitual intemperance
  • Intolerable cruelty
  • Sentence to imprisonment for life or the commission of any infamous crime involving a violation of conjugal duty and punishable by imprisonment for a period in excess of one year
  • Legal confinement in a hospital or hospitals or other similar institution or institutions, because of mental illness, for at least an accumulated period totaling five years within the period of six years next preceding the date of the complaint.

What Does Fault Divorce State Mean?

Fault divorces are far less common than no fault divorces.  For fault divorce can set up a messy, slow, high conflict litigation.  Unlike in no fault divorces, parties to a fault divorce must be able to prove, with specific evidence, that a spouse’s misconduct caused the relationship to fail.  For example, at fault divorces tend to result in spouses subpoenaing friends or relatives to testify in court about the reasons for the breakdown of the marriage.  This is unappealing to most spouses.

Read: High Conflict vs Low Conflict Divorce

No Fault vs Fault Divorce Background

The concept of no fault divorce is relatively new.  California became the first U.S. state to permit no-fault divorce in 1969.  New York was the final state to allow no fault divorce in 2010.  A New York Times editorial prior to the passage of no fault divorce said prohibiting no fault divorce was “a proven formula for inviting false testimony, endless litigation and generally making divorce far more painful than it needs to be.”  

On the other hand, criticism of no fault divorce often surrounds the concern that it would allow a spouse who actually is at fault to obtain a divorce in which alimony and property division are determined without the judge considering the facts and circumstances that led to the breakdown of the marriage.

Read: Is Connecticut a No Fault Divorce State?

No Fault Divorce vs Fault Divorce Key Takeaways

  • In fault divorce, one spouse must prove that the other spouse is “at fault” for the court to grant the divorce.
  • In no fault divorce, neither spouse must prove that the other is “at fault” for the court to grant the divorce.  Rather, you prove that the marriage has irretrievably broken down with no reasonable prospect of reconciliation.  Either spouse’s testimony that the marriage has irretrievably broken down is sufficient for the court to order the divorce.
  • No fault does not mean that a court will never consider the reason why the marriage broke down. Even in no fault divorces, the concept of fault is built into our law. Judges can consider whether one spouse had a more significant role in breakdown of the marriage when it comes to alimony and property division.  Although judges have the authority to adjust their orders based upon the cause of the breakdown (for example, adultery), there are many other factors that they take into account.

Read: Alimony: The Comprehensive Connecticut Guide

Read: Property Division: The Comprehensive Connecticut Guide

Next Steps

Now that you have learned more about divorce in Connecticut, you may want check out our Divorce Information and Facts for answers on other topics.

Our first step at Freed Marcroft, the Goals & Planning Conference, is designed to get to the heart of your problem and unveil your true goals.  Then, we take those goals along with the facts of your case and analyze them so that we can present you with recommendations and options on how to move forward.

Schedule your Goals & Planning Conference today, or contact us either here or by phone at 860-560-8160.