Helping Families Take The Next Step Toward A New Beginning

What does ‘no-fault divorce’ mean?

On Behalf of | Jan 13, 2023 | Divorce

If you have gone through a nasty breakup with your spouse, you may harbor fantasies of going into court and telling a jury all about what your ex did. Sometimes, we can get a sense of satisfaction out of fantasies like this, but it’s usually better to let these reside in our daydreams.

In fact, the majority of North Carolina divorces are settled out of court, not in front of a judge and certainly not in front of a jury. An out-of-court settlement may lack the dramatic flourish of a courtroom trial, but it has many advantages. It’s usually quicker and less expensive than going to court and it gives the parties a much greater degree of control over their outcomes. It’s also a lot more private — which may not be what you want if you’re currently infatuated with the idea of telling the world what your ex did, but is probably better for you in the long run.

The first step in reaching an out-of-court settlement is to agree that your divorce will be no-fault. To explain what this means, let’s first look at grounds for divorce.

Grounds for divorce

Traditionally, a person had to claim grounds for a divorce. In this context, “grounds” means a legal reason. Some states still have various grounds for divorce on their law books. These may include adultery, fraud and other misdeeds. Most states allow some variation of the phrase “irreconcilable differences” as grounds for divorce. This is a way of saying the divorce is no one’s fault, the parties just can’t reconcile their differences.

In North Carolina today, there are only two grounds for divorce: living separately and incurable insanity.

To claim living separately as grounds for divorce, you must show that you and your spouse have been living apart for more than a year and that at least one of you intended the separation to be permanent. You don’t need to have filed for legal separation.

To claim insanity as grounds for divorce, you must also prove that you and your spouse have been living separately for three full years.

No-fault divorce

When you consider the acceptable grounds for divorce, you may see why no-fault divorce looks like the better option. You don’t have wait one year or even three. You don’t have to gather evidence to prove where you and your ex lived. You just have to agree that it’s time for you both to move on.

Attorneys help people to understand their legal options for ending their marriages, protecting their futures and moving on to happier times.