Legal Professionals of Hirsch & Ehlenberger

What is the difference between a fault and no-fault divorce?

On Behalf of | Jun 21, 2021 | Divorce

You might not know there is more than one way to end your marriage. You can choose a fault-based divorce or a no-fault divorce.

A fault-based divorce is less common these days. You can only file for this here in Virginia based on two reasons:

  • Cruelty and reasonable apprehension of bodily harm: Name-calling will probably not justify this. You need to show that staying together would endanger your physical or mental health. That does not mean you need to wait until your spouse has battered you to file.
  • Wilful desertion or abandonment: In effect, your spouse walks out on you. Note that if you walk out on your spouse because it is no longer safe to stay, they cannot try to divorce you based on desertion, yet you can divorce them based on cruelty.


Proving your spouse has done one of these two things may be challenging, as if they do not want the marriage to end, they may deny your accusations.

What is a no-fault divorce?

You can file for a no-fault divorce when you meet one of two circumstances. Either you have lived apart for at least one year. Or you lived apart for six months, signed a separation agreement and do not have children.

If you want your marriage over and done with right now, you might look at the fault-based divorce because there is no waiting period. However, the process itself will often take longer than a no-fault divorce. It can also be more stressful and costly.

There is a lot to consider when deciding how to divorce. If you both agree that your relationship has run its time, things will be more straightforward. You can work together to wrap things up and find the best way to move on with your lives.


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