Fault or No-Fault: How to Move Forward With Your Divorce Proceedings

In order to get divorced you have to first have a ground for divorce. When filing for divorce, you have the option of filing on fault based grounds or no-fault grounds.  Below, the experienced professionals at Rodier Family Law discuss fault vs. no-fault divorce. 


No-Fault Grounds

In the state of Maryland, an absolute divorce based on the no fault ground of  a 12 month separation  cannot be filed until the parties have lived separately and have not had sexual relations for at least 12 months prior to filing. Maryland also offers mutual consent as a newer no fault ground for divorce. Mutual consent is another no-fault ground option where both spouses are in agreement that they would like to file for divorce and a separation period is not required. In order to be divorced based on mutual consent the parties must first have a written settlement agreement that resolves all outstanding issues related to the divorce.

Fault Grounds

Fault grounds may be filed when the couple has not reached the separation requirements and/or because there is another valid reason for the divorce. The spouse that is filing for divorce must provide proof to the court that justifies the divorce at the time of the divore hearing or trial. If you are unable to provide proof, you may still go through with your divorce by no-fault or mutual consent grounds if you meet the statutory requirements. Below we discuss the main types of misconduct by spouses that constitute fault based grounds for divorce. 


If your spouse commits adultery, there is no wait time required to file for divorce. The court will likely approve the divorce if you provide proper proof. The proof must show that the guilty spouse had both the desire and the opportunity for an extramarital affair(s). Unfortunately, if your spouse freely admits to having an affair, it does not alone suffice as valid evidence. Emails, phone call history, voicemails, text messages and photographs may be admissible evidence.


Desertion is when one spouse abandons the other without reason or agreement. The spouse who leaves the house is to blame in this scenario. In desertion, you must provide proof that you have not been cohabiting with your spouse, the intent of the divorce, the abandonment was not accounted for, no possibility of compromise or getting back together, there was no consent to the desertion, and the desertion lasted for a minimum of 12 months.

Constructive Desertion 

When one spouse is forced to leave home as a result of the other’s wrongdoing, it is referred to as constructive desertion. Even when one spouse physically leaves the house, the spouse who is partaking in the wrongdoing is the one who is at blame in this scenario.Constructive desertion has the same requirements as actual desertion when providing proof to move forward in the divorce process. 


Contact the Divorce Attorneys at Rodier Family Law Today 

If you are looking to file for divorce and are unsure of what direction to take, our experienced and professional divorce lawyers at Rodier Family Law can help you navigate the divorce process and assist you in proceeding in the right direction. To learn more about divorce options in Maryland and speak to a skilled divorce lawyer, contact our Bel Air office today.