Why the Cause of the Marriage Breakdown Doesn't Really Matter.

A couple can decide to get divorced for many reasons, including cheating, abuse, separation, or one or both of them just deciding that the marriage no longer works for them.  During the divorce process parties often want to get their opportunity to tell what their spouse did to cause the marriage to come to an end.  While it is important for divorcing parties to have an opportunity to state their peace during the divorce proceeding starting with what they allege on the divorce complaint, in practice it is rare that any specific reason is given for the breakdown of the marriage, and parties opt to just claim that the marriage has broken down irretrievably.  

There are nine fault ground that can be alleged in your divorce complaint.  I won’t list them all here.  The important thing to know is that when these grounds are alleged in the complaint, each element of the ground(s) has to be proven to the court’s satisfaction before the dissolution of marriage can be granted.  If you allege adultery for instance and you cannot prove all of the elements of adultery then there is a chance your divorce won’t be granted.

There is one other ground for divorce which is Irretrievable Breakdown.  This is also known as the No-Fault ground, because you are not stating a specific reason or blaming one party for the breakdown of the marriage.  It is a much simpler way to allege a cause for the breakdown over the previous nine fault grounds because it is much easier to prove.  For this reason a dissolution is rarely denied alleging the no fault ground of irretrievable breakdown.  Testimony of either party is sufficient to support a dissolution based on irretrievable breakdown.  It only requires one party to assert irretrievable breakdown.  The other party does not have to agree, and the other party can even believe that the marriage has not broken down, and can still be hoping for reconciliation, and the marriage can still be dissolved on one party’s allegation that the marriage has broken down irretrievably.  In an uncontested divorce, parties will usually agree that the marriage has broken down irretrievably.   

If you insist on alleging a fault ground in your complaint then the best practice is to also allege the no fault ground as well.  This way if you are unsuccessful proving the elements of the fault ground, the court can still grant the dissolution based on the no fault ground that you also alleged.  In practice, fault grounds are rarely alleged when a complaint is prepared by an attorney, but that does not mean that the causes of a marriage’s breakdown are totally irrelevant.  The court can also consider fault when making property and alimony orders.  If the fault alleged was the cause of the breakdown of the marriage, then fault is a statutory factory that must be considered in making alimony and property orders, even if the divorce is being brought alleging a no fault ground.

As important as what occurred, is when it occurred.  Generally allegation that would be considered causes for the breakdown that happen after the marriage has broken down are not considered, and are irrelevant.  At the least, the date of the complaint is the last date that is considered as the date the marriage broke down, because they parties allege as part of the complaint that the marriage has broken down.

 At the Law Office of N. Gladstone Brown we not only prepare you for the divorce hearing by helping you resolve your disputes, and preparing all documentation needed, but we also help you understand what to expect before, and at the final hearing, and prepare you for your life post divorce.  Visit our website at gladstonelegal.net or give us a call so we can help you find a better way to get through your divorce, or for any of your family law needs.