Which States Are No-Fault Divorce States?

By M. Kelley
No-Fault Divorce States

A no-fault divorce allows a couple to divorce without either spouse having to prove the other engaged in misconduct. All states allow no-fault divorces, with some requiring a specified number of months of separation before the divorce is officially granted.


To obtain a no-fault divorce, one spouse must declare a reason for the divorce that is recognized by the respective state. In most states, a spouse will declare the couple is no longer compatible.


The charge that the couple is no longer compatible is known in various legal terms as "incompatibility," "irreconcilable differences" or "irremediable breakdown of the marriage."


In certain states, the couple must live apart for a period of months or years before they can obtain a no-fault divorce. Vermont and the District of Columbia require a six-month separation, whereas Rhode Island, Texas and Utah require a three-year separation.


A fault divorce can be granted when the required justifications are present. The traditional fault justifications are cruelty, adultery, desertion for a specified length of time, confinement in prison for a set number of years and physical inability to engage in sexual intercourse (if it was not disclosed before marriage).


Some individuals choose a fault divorce because they do not want to go through the period of separation required by certain state law for a no-fault divorce.

About the Author

M. Kelley, Ph.D. has been writing for 15 years and is author/editor of three books (Duquesque UP, U of Delaware P) and articles in journals including "The Minnesota Review" and the labor activist "Workplace." His writing awards include the Alfred Gordon Prize for Distinguished Work in Early Modern Studies, the Mario Capelloni Fellowship, the Helaine Newstead Fellowship, and the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship.