Divorce Made Simple: Each month in addition to our usual “Doing Divorce” blog posts, we will be providing additional practical information on the legal process of divorce. Attorney Angela Lennon will bring you the logistics of the legal process in a way that is easy to understand. This month’s blog is about what a “no-fault” divorce really means.
The Blame Game: Setting Aside Fault in the Divorce Process
Nebraska is a no-fault divorce state. This means you do not have to prove who is at fault in your marriage to obtain a divorce. However, that does not mean “fault’ and “blame” are entirely removed from the process.
The “reasons” for a divorce are as complex, varied, and messy as divorce itself. However, just because you do not have to prove fault as a statutory requirement to be granted a divorce, fault and blame are often at the forefront of a spouse’s mind throughout the process.
As divorce attorneys, we are privy to stories of heartbreak that are weaved together with the complicated emotions of grief, fault, loss, relief, blame, regret, and hopefulness. Not being required to prove fault proves to be useful because we can acknowledge and support our clients through the emotional turmoil, while focusing on possibilities and carving a path for new beginnings. We can focus our attention on the future rather than collecting evidence about each of the spouse’s negative actions leading to the breakdown of a marriage.
On an emotional level, it is incredibly challenging to untangle and detach the feelings of fault and blame while you are going through your own divorce, or witnessing a divorce of a loved one. However, in the legal process, your lawyer will not scrutinize the history of your marriage to identify your shortcomings or incompatibilities as a couple. Likewise, the court will set aside those issues in favor of focusing on each spouse’s future, the terms of their property and financial issues, and the best interests of their children.
As a no-fault divorce state, the court has the authority to grant a divorce, as long as one of the spouses confirms that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.” Essentially, this advises the court that you have experienced difficulties in your marriage, you have attempted efforts of reconciliation, that no other efforts of reconciliation would be successful, and that you want a dissolution of your marriage.
The phrase “irretrievably broken” is used in lieu of having to explain and “prove” all of the reasons why a marriage should be dissolved, and as long as this phrase is included in the formal pleadings filed with the Court, the judge will grant a divorce.
While the phrase “irretrievably broken” is surely an insufficient term to describe the emotional complexities of divorce, in the divorce process, it helps set aside blame and fault and instead encourages focus on the future.