There are two types of divorce in New Hampshire: fault and no-fault.
In a New Hampshire no-fault divorce, the actions of either party that may have contributed to the breakdown of the marriage are irrelevant. The Family Division court’s only inquiry is whether irreconcilable differences have caused the irremediable breakdown of the marriage.
By contrast, each party’s actions are closely scrutinized in a New Hampshire fault divorce in order to determine what caused the marriage to fail. Some of the statutory factors that a Family Division court can find to have caused the breakdown of the marriage include:
- Adultery of either party
- Extreme cruelty of either party to the other
- When either party has so treated the other as seriously to injure health or endanger reason
- When either party is a habitual drunkard, and has been such for 2 years together
“Fault divorce is appropriate when a party feels particularly aggrieved by his/her spouse’s conduct and truly believes that the spouse’s behavior caused an otherwise solid marriage to fail.”
As you can imagine, specific, detailed evidence is required to prove any of the factors listed above to the Family Division court’s satisfaction. In fact, NH courts, mediators, and New Hampshire divorce attorneys generally encourage parties to proceed on a no-fault basis.
However, there are very valid reasons for filing a fault divorce. It is important for you to understand the potential benefits of a fault divorce in order to make an informed decision.
Advantages of New Hampshire Fault Divorce
First, a party who proves that his/her spouse’s fault caused the breakdown of the marriage may be entitled to a greater share of the divorce property settlement. In order to receive a greater share, s/he must also prove that his/her spouse’s fault caused substantial physical or mental pain or resulted in substantial economic loss to the marital estate.
Second, the NH Family Division court can consider fault in determining the amount of alimony a party is entitled to receive. For many people, alimony is a crucial aspect of any divorce settlement.
Finally, fault divorce is appropriate when a party feels particularly aggrieved by his/her spouse’s conduct and truly believes that the spouse’s behavior caused an otherwise solid marriage to fail.
Disadvantages of New Hampshire Fault Divorce
There are well known disadvantages to fault divorce. First, fault grounds may increase the acrimony between the parties and may negatively affect the relationship each party enjoys with their children. Second, fault divorce is typically more expensive to litigate because the other party is less likely to settle and a final hearing will probably be required to prove the fault. Finally, fault can be difficult to prove because it must be shown that the other party’s conduct actually caused the marriage to break down. The mere existence of the conduct, however egregious, is not enough.
Our Role in a New Hampshire Fault Divorce
In the end, the decision to proceed on a fault or no-fault basis is yours to make. Once made, it is our objective to validate your decision by achieving the best possible outcome for you.
Contact us and learn why many of our clients consider us to be the best divorce attorneys in New Hampshire.
by Todd W. Stevens, Esquire