No Fault Divorce States

Jodee Redmond
Judges gavel

No fault divorce states allow a couple to legally end their marriage without either person having to prove the other one committed a wrongful act. This option is available to couples in all parts of the United States.

No Fault Divorce States: Grounds for Divorce

In cases where a person is filing for a no-fault divorce, he or she doesn't need to set out specific grounds, as in the case of a fault divorce. The person filing the papers only needs to state that the marriage has broken down. Terms like "irreconcilable differences" or "incompatibility" are used to show that the couple can't get along and no longer wishes to be married.

Living Apart and No-fault Divorce

Simply because a couple has decided to apply to the court for a no-fault divorce, it doesn't mean that they only need to sign the papers and the matter is finished. Each state sets its own rules for divorce. In some cases, the couple is required to live apart for a set time before they can get a divorce.

The following states have set periods of time that a couple must live apart before a no-fault divorce will be granted:

Separation Before Divorce (Where Specified)
State Length of Separation
Alabama 2 years
Arkansas 18 months
Connecticut 18 months
District of Columbia 6 months
Hawaii 2 years
Idaho 5 years
Illinois 2 years
Louisiana 6 months
Maryland 1 year
Minnesota 6 months
Nevada 1 year
New Jersey 18 months
New York 1 year
North Carolina 1 year
Ohio 1 year
Pennsylvania 2 years
Rhode Island 3 years
South Carolina 1 year
Tennessee 2 years
Texas 3 years
Utah 3 years
Vermont 6 months
Virginia 1 year
West Virginia 1 year

There may be specific rules that apply to no-fault divorce in different parts of the country. For example, in Tennessee, a divorce will only be granted on grounds of separation to a childless couple. Couples with children have the option of asking for a fault-based divorce instead. In Virginia, the one-year separation requirement may be reduced to six months for couples who don't have children.

Why Choose a Fault Divorce

In some states, a person seeking a divorce can apply for a fault-based one instead of a no-fault divorce, even though all parts of the country are no-fault divorce states. A person who is considering this option should consult with an attorney to find out whether it is to their advantage to do so.

In non-community property states, it may make sense to try to show that the other person is at fault if it means a bigger divorce settlement. Each person's conduct is not necessarily considered when making determinations about property division and alimony. In states where it may be factored in, do seek out expert legal advice before making a decision about which way to file for divorce.

Another reason why a person may want to choose a fault divorce over a no-fault one is that he doesn't want to wait out the separation period before being able to end the marriage. Where one or both people want to get the matter resolved quickly, choosing a fault divorce (where available in no fault divorce states) may make sense.

No Fault Divorce States