What Is a Unilateral Divorce?

By Mary Jane Freeman

Unilateral divorce describes a divorce in which one spouse terminates the marriage without the consent of the other spouse. Spouses can do this by filing for divorce on no-fault grounds, which allows couples to divorce regardless of whether the other spouse consents and without casting blame on the other spouse for the marriage coming to an end. Regardless of the state you live in, you may file for no-fault divorce.

Unilateral divorce describes a divorce in which one spouse terminates the marriage without the consent of the other spouse. Spouses can do this by filing for divorce on no-fault grounds, which allows couples to divorce regardless of whether the other spouse consents and without casting blame on the other spouse for the marriage coming to an end. Regardless of the state you live in, you may file for no-fault divorce.

What No-Fault Divorce Means

In the past, spouses could only obtain a divorce by mutual agreement or on fault grounds, such as adultery or abuse. However, in 2010, New York became the last state to finally adopt no-fault divorce, making it possible for spouses everywhere to divorce without getting their spouses' consent or blaming them for the divorce. Although every state now allows no-fault divorce, it is sometimes described as irreconcilable differences, irretrievable breakdown of the marriage or incompatibility, depending on where the divorce is sought. However, these terms essentially mean the same thing. Additionally, the phrase unilateral divorce is not commonly used. This is because no-fault divorce is equally available to spouses who don't have the other spouse's consent (unilateral divorce) and to spouses who do (consensual divorce).

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
Illinois Divorce on the Grounds of Abandonment

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How Long Do You Have to Be Separated to Get a Divorce in Virginia?

If your marriage is no longer working, you have the option of filing for legal separation or divorce. Unfortunately, in Virginia, these options are not described in such a straightforward manner. Instead, legal separation is known as "divorce from bed and board," while an actual divorce is called a "divorce from the bond of matrimony." Considering the similarity in terminology, it's easy to get the two confused. To ensure you meet the requirements for a divorce, particularly the length of separation required, it's important to know and understand the differences between the two.

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Every state requires that parties filing for divorce give a legally recognized reason for seeking to end the marriage. These are called grounds, which can be categorized as either fault or no-fault. A few states offer only no-fault grounds, while others recognize both types. Each state has its own set of grounds for divorce, although they are often quite similar. No matter what, grounds for divorce must be proven before the court will grant you and your spouse a final judgment of divorce.

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