If you’re considering a divorce, you’ve probably heard the term, “no-fault.” However, this is not a term used in New Hampshire. Here, divorces are typically filed as irreconcilable differences or fault-based. This post details what a no-fault divorce means, which, for NH residents, would be filed as “irreconcilable differences.” 

Scissors cutting through a marriage certificate and orange rose

What is no-fault or divorce due to irreconcilable differences?

A no-fault divorce basically states that neither party is at fault for the breakdown of a marriage. In other words, one party does not need to prove that the other party is more at fault for the breakdown of a marriage. When filing for a no-fault divorce, one party member only needs to state a reason, such as “irreconcilable differences” for the divorce to happen.

With a divorce granted under irreconcilable differences there is a presumption of an equitable split of the marital estate.  

What’s the difference between a no-fault divorce and a fault divorce?

A fault divorce requires that a party prove that the spouse did something wrong. Adultery, extreme cruelty (mental or physical), and desertion are all reasons for a fault divorce.

No-fault divorces or divorces filed due to irreconcilable differences are becoming more common because there’s much less pressure on one party to prove that the other did anything wrong. It basically just tells the court that you no longer wish to be legally bound to the other person.

Why would someone file for a fault divorce?

A fault divorce doesn’t require any time of separation, but does put the burden of proof on the accusing party to prove the other party is at fault. A fault divorce may be helpful in instances such as abuse to ensure that the other party does not have equal rights to children. It may help you also build a case against a spouse. However, a fault divorce can drag on for a long period of time as the other party may try to prove your accusations untrue.

The fault-based grounds outlined in RSA 458: 7 read as follows:

A divorce from the bonds of matrimony shall be decreed in favor of the innocent party for any of the following causes:

  • I. Impotency of either party.
  • II. Adultery of either party.
  • III. Extreme cruelty of either party to the other.
  • IV. Conviction of either party, in any state or federal district, of a crime punishable with imprisonment for more than one year and actual imprisonment under such conviction.
  • V. When either party has so treated the other as seriously to injure health or endanger reason.
  • VI. When either party has been absent 2 years together, and has not been heard of.
  • VII. When either party is an habitual drunkard, and has been such for 2 years together.
  • VIII. When either party has joined any religious sect or society which professes to believe the relation of husband and wife unlawful, and has refused to cohabit with the other for 6 months together.
  • IX. When either party, without sufficient cause, and without the consent of the other, has abandoned and refused, for 2 years together, to cohabit with the other.

It’s important to note that a divorce granted to the innocent party on a fault ground may entitle the innocent party to a disproportionate division of marital assets and / or debt. However, be advised that the disproportionate share is seldom worth the money spent trying to prove the fault ground in the first place. 

What kind of divorce is best for me?

The kind of divorce that will be best for you is likely based on your unique circumstances. Speaking with a divorce attorney or lawyer like those here at Bernstein & Mello, PLLC can help get you on the right track when filing for divorce. Contact us today to get started.