Although many states have adopted a no-fault divorce policy, giving couples the option to cite benign causes for the separation, sometimes it is the best or most beneficial option for one of the parties to claim fault against the other. According to Houston law firm Holmes, Diggs, Eames & Sadler, this status can strongly sway rulings on child support, child custody, property division, and alimony payments.
An at-fault divorce requires the plaintiff to have grounds for the divorce and provide proof that their claims are well founded. Grounds for at-fault divorce include emotional or physical cruelty, desertion, imprisonment, and adultery.
Despite the possible benefit of the court ruling in the favor of the plaintiff, filing an at-fault divorce is very often more expensive and more time-consuming than a no-fault divorce. An at-fault divorce, by its very nature, is often contested by the defendant and requires the couple to go to court. In addition, if there are children involved, the process of a court-run divorce can become emotionally taxing and very strenuous on the entire family.
Although plaintiffs may be able to pull up proof of the defendant’s faults, the defendant also has means to defend themselves. To counter accusations of fault from a spouse, defenses against divorce include:
- Collusion, which is an agreement between the two parties to present a fraudulent scenario to be eligible for divorce. This was more common when no-fault divorces were not available.
- Condonation, which is when a couple has reconciled after a transgression, but files for divorce based on that transgression anyway.
- Connivance, which is the claim that permission of the plaintiff was given to the defendant to commit an offense. This defense is most commonly used in defense of adultery.
- Recrimination, which is the barring of divorce from a couple in which both parties have committed an offense. If this occurs, many couples go on to file for no-fault divorce.