What is a No Fault Divorce?

Certificate of Divorce
No Fault Divorce Document

Historically, divorces required one party to be at fault.  This could have been criminal behavior, adultery, or abuse, for example.  Now instead, all states, Minnesota included, operate under a “no fault” divorce system.

As an aside, some states still require a separation period before divorcing.  This is to give the parties time to think over the decision and possibly reconcile.  Minnesota does not have a separation requirement.

What is a No Fault Divorce and why does it matter?

A no fault divorce means that either party can get a divorce without alleging the other is at fault in some way.  Instead, one spouse only needs to allege that the marriage is effectively broken.  Each state has required language for this.

For example, celebrities often get divorced citing “irreconcilable differences”.  In Minnesota, the term is “irretrievable breakdown of the marriage“.

Perhaps most importantly, it also means that either party can get a divorce over the objection of the other party.  So, if you are entitled to a divorce in Minnesota and want a divorce, there’s no way for your spouse to legally prevent it.

Lastly, “no fault” only refers to the reason to start a divorce. In practice, it largely removes the “who’s to blame for the divorce” question.  Blame doesn’t typically matter legally.

However, it does not mean a divorce will necessarily be uncontested.  An uncontested divorce means both spouses agree on everything.  Very few divorces are uncontested.

Even in a no fault divorce, each spouse still has a right to argue his or her side of any issue.  These include: custody, child support, alimony, and property division.

For other divorce or family law questions, please consult the list to the left or the FAQ page.  If you’re interested in retaining an attorney to help you, please feel free to contact my office for a consultation using the contact information on the left or the contact form on the Majeski Law home page