You may have read that Florida is a “no-fault divorce” state. This term gets thrown around all the time by both people who support the idea and those who oppose it.
In this blog post, we’ll give a brief summary of what “no-fault divorce” means and why it is important.
When it was difficult to get a divorce
For hundreds of years, it was very difficult for anyone to get a divorce. It was especially difficult for women.
Anyone who sought a divorce had to argue that their spouse was at fault. They also had to state the reasons, known as grounds. For instance, a person might seek a divorce on the grounds of adultery. This meant introducing evidence of the other spouse’s adultery, which could be difficult to obtain and embarrassing to share.
Under the laws of many states, spouses had to cite grounds for he divorce even when both agreed that the they should end the marriage.
The system tended to be especially hard on women. Among other things, the fault-based system made it very difficult for women to leave abusive marriages. Most states accepted cruelty as a ground for divorce, but it was often difficult for women to provide evidence they had been subjected to cruelty.
Starting in the late 1960s, the states began reforming their laws to make it easier for people to obtain a divorce. In Florida, this meant changing the law so that now a person seeking a divorce must state one of two grounds:
- The marriage is “irretrievably broken”
- One spouse has been declared mentally incompetent
Typically, both parties agree that the marriage has been irretrievably broken. This means no one has to argue that the other spouse was at fault, and no one has to provide evidence of the other spouse’s misconduct in order to obtain a divorce. (However, the issue of one party’s misconduct may be relevant to issues such as child custody or alimony.)
Divorce is never easy, but without no-fault divorce, a Florida divorce would be a lot harder.