What Does It Mean to Have a No-Fault Divorce?

You may have heard horror stories about states without no-fault divorce.  In these states, one had to show wrongdoing by a spouse in order to get divorced.  The wrongdoing had to exceed a loss of love in the marriage.  Instead, it was generally adultery, abandonment, felony, etc. The tricky part was that a party could assert a defense of recrimination, essentially, “Yes, I was adulterous but so were you.”  If a court found both parties at fault, the action for divorce was defeated and both parties were stuck in the marriage.

Thankfully, Massachusetts is a no-fault divorce state which means residents have the option of getting divorced without citing a reason beyond “irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.”  Although most people pursue divorce on grounds of irretrievable breakdown, Massachusetts allows you to cite fault if you want.  You should talk to your attorney if you’re inclined to cite a fault ground of divorce because these fault grounds of divorce may not help your case.  In fact, they could hinder negotiations by infuriating the opposing party.