What Is Fault?

Although divorce has become a common and accepted part of modern society, this was not always the case. Up until fairly recently, divorces were viewed in a negative light, as were the people who sought them. The paternalist society that created this world view considered that people could only have a few reasons to seek out a divorce, and these were mostly in special cases of abandonment, massive fraud, or, naturally, infidelity.

These reasons are called “grounds for divorce,” and establishing that someone was at fault (that is, had committed grounds for divorce) was, in most cases, mandatory for the divorce to be granted. This meant that for a divorce to go through, someone had to definitively be proven to be at fault, meaning that a trial was inevitable. Today, there are many divorce options which can forgo a trial entirely. Prior to 1975, though, virtually every divorce had to be tried in front of a court.

Because the person at fault would play a dramatic part in determining the terms of the divorce, the trial period could be long and protracted. A woman trying to get favorable alimony conditions would have to prove that she was not the cause of the divorce. A man who had engaged in an affair might try to cover that up so that he could avoid paying alimony.

Today, there are few jurisdictions in the United States which require fault for a divorce to be granted. The exception to this is the state of New York. While fault can still be established in a divorce, doing so can actually slow down the process.

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If you're going through a divorce and have any questions about the way fault affects your proceedings, contact the San Diego divorce lawyers of Fischer & Van Thiel, LLP, by calling 760-722-7646.

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