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“Fault” Does Matter!

July 11, 2013

Fault Matters

There’s a lot of talk these days about how Connecticut is a “no-fault” divorce state.  While it is true that fault is not legally required for someone to get divorced, fault still matters in a divorce action.  It can play a very large role in determining the amount and length of an alimony award as well as in how the court decides to distribute property.

The term “no fault” refers to the grounds (legal reason) for divorce.  It means that a married couple does not need a specific reason, such as adultery or willful desertion, to get divorced.  To get divorced in Connecticut, all one needs to do is show that there has been an “irretrievable breakdown” of the marriage.  This does not require blame to be put on either spouse. While this may create a low bar to getting a divorce, fault is often a significant factor in determining what to do with marital property and the payment of alimony.

Connecticut law specifically states that fault, among other factors, will be considered when a judge decides how to assign marital property, how much and how long alimony will be paid, and whether alimony should be modified after the divorce.  In fact, when a judge enters a judgment of divorce following a trial, the judge usually makes a specific finding about who caused the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.

If a spouse committed adultery, physically or emotionally abused the other spouse, deserted the other spouse, or caused the marriage to break down in some other way, the innocent spouse may be entitled to more of the marital property and/or a bigger/longer alimony award.   Fault may not be legally required to get divorced, but it is often a prominent factor in determining how much marital property each spouse will keep, how long alimony will be paid, how much alimony will be paid, and whether alimony should be modified after the divorce.

Because of that, even though Connecticut is a “no-fault state,” fault matters.