No Fault Divorce means that you are not required to provide proof your spouse was “at fault” or did something wrong, such as committing adultery, or being abusive to be granted a divorce. Every state in the US has adopted some form “no-fault” divorce laws. California was the first to do so in 1969 under then Governor Ronald Reagan. New York was the last to do so in 2010. The application of the no fault divorce terminology is not uniform from state to state since each state independently passed laws to enact it. Some states allow but do not require the proof of fault in a divorce filing while others don’t even allow a petitioner to claim any grounds for fault in a filing. Check with an attorney in your state to verify your state laws.
How can no-fault laws affect your financial settlement?
They don’t necessarily. You may still be permitted to show facts related to one parties actions as part of your case. Some states are known as “equitable distribution” states and allow a judge to take the conduct of parties during the marriage into account in dividing assets. Equitable does not mean equal. This means the court can divide assets based up on what it believes is FAIR and effectively penalize a party financially for their actions during marriage. Dissipation is one of the most common fault actions affecting an asset division in divorce. Dissipation, in loose terms, refers to the misappropriation of marital assets. Usually these allegations stem from drug use, pornography, gambling or expenses related to acts of infidelity.
If you believe dissipation to be an issue in your divorce we suggest you seek guidance of a certified divorce financial analyst at Wellspring Divorce Advisors to help you understand the cost/ benefit of making such an argument. These types of claims typically require significant forensic accounting to prove the flow of funds and who was in control of it and it may not be worth it to pursue the claim in light of the cost associated with doing so.