What is the difference between a fault and no-fault divorce?

In Rhode Island, we do not have a formal process to file a Divorce on the grounds of no-fault. Upon filing you claim irreconcilable differences and ask the Court to assign the matter to the Uncontested track, but this does not mean that one party was not a fault for the breakdown of the marriage, it simply means you are, or expect to be in agreement as to the complete settlement. For instance you may have already mediated a resolution.

All divorces in Rhode Island require the parties to establish some basic grounds for divorce. Typically, when you are in agreement, you will testify that you grew apart and had irreconcilable differences which included different goals as to lifestyle and led to arguments and ultimately the irremediable breakdown df the marriage. When we divorce parties based upon Irreconcilable differences, or an agreement they have reached, we never bring up the “dirt” between them, as the process is at that point uncontested. Such testimony would be provocative and not likely to promote settlement.

A divorce filed and initiated on the basis of fault in Rhode Island is much more involved and often quite expensive. In Rhode Island, you have the always option of filing for divorce claiming one person is to blame for the failure of the marriage, but the vast majority of divorces are filed based upon irreconcilable differences as set forth above. Common grounds for a fault divorce include extreme cruelty and abuse, desertion, adultery, impotence, and excessive use of alcohol. Almost all cases filed upon the grounds of fault ultimately end up being resolved by agreement. When that happens, the underlying fault is not set forth on the record, you simply testify that there are irreconcilable differences between you. However, the fault is of course considered and factored into the ultimate resolution. So while we don’t publicly advertise the parties fault in open Court, the offending party is still held responsible for their actions.

With that being said, you should keep in mind that proving a fault divorce can be difficult and is always expensive. The accusing party have solid proof and independent third party witnesses for of any fault grounds. Make sure to consult with a knowledgeable attorney before taking any divorce action to understand your options. Contact our office to have your questions answered today.