Some States Say Yes. Some Say Maybe

Just because you can get a no-fault divorce in many states doesn’t mean you are safe from accusations of marital misconduct that has a negative economic impact upon the spouse that’s the victim of the bad behavior, according to the National Legal Research Group.

Marital misconduct by legal definition is behavior that happens before the marriage ended. It destabilizes the marriage and causes the victim spouse a significant physical, emotional or financial burden. Among the actions that can be considered as marital misconduct: infidelity, alcohol or drug abuse, gambling, acting out against the victim by causing significant damage or harm, murder or attempted murder and any other criminal conduct.

Courts would also consider if the marital assets were excessively spent so the offender could participate in the misconduct.As an example, in 1990 a Pennsylvania court ruled in favor of the wife, awarding her all the marital assets after her ex-husband was found to have used money from their accounts to in a plot to murder her.

Many states that consider marital misconduct as an optional to allow a spouse to choose a no-fault divorce as well. What that means is if the couple is not acrimonious, they don’t have to check the nasty boxes on the initial divorce papers that indicate fault or guilt,” explained Belinda Rachman, a divorce attorney and mediation expert.

In 2008, Rhonda received her divorce in Tennessee, a state that considers fault when the offended spouse’s actions cause future financial consequences.After years of marriage, “…I ended up with fractured vertebrae and severe depression. I couldn’t find a job anywhere because of my problems,” she said.The court awarded her the largest portion of her and her ex-husband’s assets.

States across the country vary in their consideration of marital misconduct charges. Some states, like Missouri, will consider marital misconduct if it placed an extraordinary burden on the victim spouse which forced the victim to take on more than half of the marital duties.

Some Americans think the no-fault divorce makes it too easy to get a divorce. However, some experts say a no-fault divorce is a better option than one in which grounds are used to determine why a divorce should be granted. The Tennessee Alliance for Legal Aid thinks having the option offers help for a victim spouse, who may have put in the majority or work and income into the marriage and can then be properly compensated in the divorce.

Rachman promotes the no-fault option explaining, Lawyers have a vested interest in making a case nasty because that is how they get paid. About 85 percent of couples should avoid getting separate attorneys if they want to protect any children and save a lot of money.”