Define a No Fault Divorce

By Beverly Bird

All states now recognize no-fault divorce, but there are different kinds of no-fault grounds. Divorcing this way in Maryland isn't quite as easy as it is in California. The commonality among all jurisdictions is that no-fault means you don't have to point an accusatory finger at your spouse or prove that he did anything wrong in order to be granted a divorce.

We Just Don't Get Along

Most states only require that you tell the court in your petition or complaint that you and your spouse are incompatible. Some states hang fancy terms on this concept – in New York, your marriage is "irretrievably broken," whereas in Illinois, you and your spouse have "irreconcilable differences." By any name, you just don't want to be married anymore, and this is usually good enough for the court to end your marriage.

We've Lived Apart for a Long Time

In some states, no-fault divorce is more complicated. For example, in Maryland and North Carolina, you must demonstrate that your marriage is over by living apart for a full year before you can file. In Illinois, you can say you've got irreconcilable differences, but you must still live separately for a while as well.

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"Pure" No-Fault States

Most states also recognize some fault grounds for divorce, but 15 do not -- including California and Florida. In these jurisdictions, you have no choice but to file for divorce on blameless grounds.

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Do You Have to Be Separated for 6 Months to File for a Divorce?

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Illinois No-Fault Divorce Laws

Most Illinois couples who decide to part ways use the state’s irreconcilable differences ground for divorce. Although this is not technically a no-fault rule, it is the closest thing to it that Illinois offers. If you file divorce papers on grounds of irreconcilable differences, you don’t have to accuse your spouse of fault or of doing anything wrong in order to obtain a legal end to your marriage.

What's Required to Get Divorced?

To get divorced, you need a reason that’s acceptable to the court. You need a court that can legally take jurisdiction over your matter and make decisions regarding it; you accomplish this by living in the state where you file for a prescribed period of time. You must also address and resolve all issues of your marriage, including custody and parenting time with your children, before a court will allow you and your spouse to legally part ways.

What States Accept Holographic Wills?

A holographic -- also called "olographic" in Louisiana -- will is written in the handwriting of the testator, or the person making the will. Not all states recognize a holographic will as valid. The states that do recognize them have differing requirements for what constitutes a proper holographic will. For instance, some states require that the entire will be handwritten, while others require only that "material provisions" be in the testator's handwriting.

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