Divorce affects millions of Americans every single year. Sources approximate that 50% of American marriages end in divorce. There are many different types and categorizations of divorces, which your attorney can help you to navigate. Each different iteration of divorce can offer you unique opportunities for legal recourse that ensure that your interests are protected. In this article, we explore what a fault divorce is vs. a no-fault divorce, and what considerations you should take throughout the legal process of each.
A no-fault divorce is currently legally acceptable in all fifty states. This legal term describes instances of divorce where there is a fundamental breakdown that prohibits the marriage from going forward. This is an entirely subjective process, and any party involved in the marriage (husband or wife) is able to request this type of divorce from the courts. Utah will allow this type of divorce to follow normalized proceedings, however, when it comes to alimony or resource allocation, there may be differences from the regular no-fault process. The judge will be able to act in his or her best efforts to protect the interests of both parties, which may require assignment of fault for complex matters such as alimony. The term “fault” is loose here, as there are a variety of other conditions to assess as well. Certain elements that the judge will consider in the case of alimony include the ability of the spouses to earn, current financial standing, among other elements.
Whether you file for a no-fault or a fault-based divorce in Utah, you can expect that both you and your spouse may be subjected to the state’s 90-day waiting period between the petition and the finalized degree from the courts. This step, while inconvenient, is mandated by the state and can only be waived from a separate motion that is submitted to the court. In cases of rocky separations or relational stress that would be exacerbated by this type of event, you may consider hiring the services of a legal specialist who can help you to obtain and file the necessary paperwork for this type of motion. They also can be a resource to you so that you can protect your rights and your interests throughout the divorce process. This can be especially helpful during the division of resources or the calculation of alimony, spousal, or child support.
After the petition to waive the 90 days is filed, the judge will deliberate and determine if your circumstances are considered extenuating enough to warrant the waiver of the mandatory 90 day waiting period. This period is used to ensure that both members of the marriage are completely satisfied with the decision to divorce and is meant to impart the weight of the decision to both parties in the marriage. In order to assist the judge in determining if this is appropriate to waive, be sure to gather any information or evidence that you have showing that the 90-day period would not be helpful or necessary in your case.
At times, the no-fault divorce option may not apply to your marriage or situation. In this case, you may consider opting for a fault-based divorce. The different definitions and justifications for this type of divorce can range by state. In the State of Utah, you can review the outlined provisions for this type of divorce in Utah Code §30-3-1(3). For example, you may consider filing for a fault-based divorce if:
- Spousal desertion occurs. This would be defined as a period of time where one of the spouses was to physically abandon the other for an extended period of time. This can lead to lasting damage in the marriage and could offer potential grounds for a fault-based divorce.
- Adultery occurs during the marriage. In the state of Utah, cheating would be potential grounds for a fault-based divorce.
- Cruel treatment, abuse, or alcoholism occurs. These types of marriage-based maladies can cause lasting harm to the members of the marriage who are on the receiving ends of the abuse and can constitute grounds for a fault-based divorce.
- Felony charges are sustained. This element would not apply if it was a misdemeanor, and can only serve as grounds for fault-based divorce if it is a felony charge.
There are several other instances that a fault-based divorce would be applicable for, which your attorney and legal team can help you to determine. Determining which classification best suits the nature of your marriage and subsequent divorce can strengthen your case and be advantageous to you when it comes time to consider asset allocation and next steps.
If you’re considering divorce, you aren’t alone. The process can feel overwhelming and confusing, along with the added stress and emotional burden of the divorce process. The experts at Ascent Law are here to help you navigate the process through its completion, and protect your rights at every step. To book your free introductory call, contact us today at (801) 432-8682.