In Georgia, one of the choices separating couples must make is whether to file for a fault-based divorce or not. It is essential for parties to decide on this since their decision affects how the court addresses certain aspects of the divorce, such as spousal support and property division.
Accordingly, knowing the difference between fault and no-fault divorce can help divorcing parties make an informed decision.
Fault vs. no-fault: The basis for the divorce
As the name suggests, fault divorces are based on one or both spouses’ misconduct during the marriage. In Georgia, the fault grounds are the following:
- Force, duress or fraud in acquiring the marriage
- Intermarriage within prohibited degrees of kinship
- Cruelty or violence
- Alcohol or drug addiction
- Mental incapacity or insanity
- Pregnancy during marriage by a man other than the husband
- Conviction of a crime with a sentence of at least two years
- Willful and continued desertion for at least one year
In these cases, the spouse alleging fault must prove it to court for the petition to stand. However, the court will not accept fault under specific circumstances.
For no-fault divorces, parties only have to prove that they have irreconcilable differences and that the marriage can no longer be saved.
Fault vs. no-fault: Effect on divorce issues
Unlike in no-fault divorces, courts can consider one spouse’s misconduct in fault divorces when addressing divorce issues. For instance, judges may award more alimony or a greater percentage of the marital property to the innocent spouse. Another possible scenario is for the court to award sole custody of a child to one parent when the other has been convicted of a serious crime.
Exploring the best option for you
When determining the divorce option that would maximize your protection and best serve your interests, a thorough review of the facts and circumstances of your case is crucial. This allows you to explore strategies that would align with your needs. Seeking experienced legal assistance can also help you realize your goals.