When filing for divorce, you must choose a legal reason for the divorce that is appropriate for your situation. Legal reasons for divorce are also known as “grounds for divorce.”
Massachusetts gives spouses the option of filing for divorce based on “no fault” or “fault” grounds.
A fault divorce is granted when the filing spouse cites a reason – recognized by the state – as to why the other spouse is at fault for the dissolution of the marriage.
To put it in simple terms, one party blames the other for causing the failure of their marriage.
Grounds for Fault Divorce
The party filing for a fault divorce is responsible for proving his or her assertions. When the required grounds are present, at least one spouse requests a fault divorce be granted.
Traditional grounds for a fault divorce are:
- Cruelty (infliction of unnecessary or emotional pain)
- Desertion for a specific length of time
- Confinement in prison for a set number of years
- Physical inability to consummate the marriage, if not disclosed before marriage
Other grounds for a fault divorce include:
- Mental instability by one of the parties
- Drug use or habitual intoxication
Common Fault Divorce Defenses
One spouse can prevent a fault divorce filed by the other spouse. He or she must do this by convincing the court that they are, in fact, not at fault.
- Condonation. The filing spouse approves of, accepts, or has forgiven the other for a wrongdoing.
- Connivance. The filing spouse “set up” a situation so that the other spouse committed a wrongdoing.
- Provocation. The filing spouse led the other into the act, or forced them to commit the wrongdoing.
- Recrimination. The filing spouse is committing the same wrongdoing they accuse the other of doing.
Proving defensed requires an excess of time, money, and energy. For this reason – along with the highly unlikely fact that the public would agree to force people to stay married against their own will – defenses to a fault divorce are rarely used.
A high percentage of fault divorce situations involve both parties claiming that the other is at fault. When both spouses show grounds for fault divorce, the judge decides which party is least at fault. The spouse with the stronger case may gain an advantage in child custody, marital property, and alimony considerations.
Learn about the changes set forth by the Massachusetts Alimony Reform Act of 2011.
Fault divorce can be a complicated and lengthy process for individuals to endure. It is highly recommended that you seek legal representation. Hiring a Massachusetts divorce attorney can ease the stress and pain of getting a divorce. A good divorce attorney will be able to guide you through the no fault divorce process to ensure your rights and property are protected in the divorce settlement.
Call Revelli & Luzzo to speak with our Worcester divorce attorney. We will take the time to understand your situation and guide you in the right direction so that you can make the best decision possible. If you have any questions about the documentation and steps involved in the fault divorce process, request your consultation. We can help.