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Some Differences Between Fault And No-Fault Divorces
In 1969, California Governor Ronald Reagan, who had promised to “put welfare bums to work” during the gubernatorial campaign, signed one of the nation’s first no-fault divorce laws. Although at the time, no-fault divorce was a very progressive concept, almost all other states quickly followed suit, and the divorce rate skyrocketed throughout the 1970s and 1980s.
Today, most all divorces are no-fault divorces, but sometimes, an evidence-based divorce is a better option. Indeed, if the husband and wife entered into an Arizona covenant marriage, a fault divorce is the only option, other than a divorce by mutual agreement.
Judges will grant marriage dissolution if the relationship is “irretrievably broken,” a term of art which means that, for whatever reason, the marital relationship has broken down and there is no reasonable expectation of reconciliation.
Generally, the petitioner’s testimony alone is enough to establish the elements of a no-fault divorce, because if one person has given up on the marriage, it is more than likely impossible to save it, so the other spouse probably has no hope of establishing that there is a reasonable chance for reconciliation.
There is a 60-day waiting period in no-fault cases.
Aside from covenant marriages, there are some other reasons to seek a fault divorce. Some people want or need fault declarations for personal purposes, and in some cases, fault declarations may be admissible in the property division component of a divorce. An Arizona divorce may be granted on the basis of:
- Adultery: Although some litigants have urged courts to adopt a broad view of adultery that includes excessive use of pornography, extreme flirtatious conduct, and similar issues, at this time, the law only recognizes a physical act of adultery.
- Felony Conviction: The crime must have been committed during the marriage, and the offending spouse must have been sentenced to prison or death.
- Separation: If one spouse abandons the relationship, stays away for at least a year, and has refused to return, the other spouse may obtain a divorce.
- Domestic Violence: The definition of “domestic violence” is narrower in this context than in the criminal law context because the violence must be physical and must be against a permanent resident of the marital household.
- Substance Abuse: The alcohol, drug, or other substance addiction must be so bad that it regularly interferes with daily functions; for example, the offending spouse has been to rehab at least once and is still addicted.
Condonation is one of the most common offenses, so spouses who forgive domestic violence and agree to resume the marital relationship may not be able to later claim this ground for divorce. Except in separation cases, there is normally no waiting period in evidence-based cases.
Rely On an Experienced Attorney
If your marriage is ending, or has ended, you have several legal options. For a free consultation with an experienced family law attorney in Tempe, contact the Law Office of Ronald L. Kossack. We routinely handle cases throughout Maricopa County and nearby jurisdictions.