What are irreconcilable differences as opposed to a divorce based on fault?

What are irreconcilable differences as opposed to a divorce based on fault?

What are irreconcilable difference?

Irreconcilable differences and divorce based on fault are two distinct grounds on which a marriage can be dissolved under New Hampshire law. These two methods reflect different approaches to ending a marriage, each with its own implications for the divorce process, the parties involved, and the outcome of the divorce decree. Here, we will explore these concepts in detail, focusing on how they are defined and applied within the context of New Hampshire family law.

Irreconcilable Differences

Under New Hampshire law, irreconcilable differences are grounds for what is often called a “no-fault” divorce. This means that the filing spouse, or both spouses jointly, can request a divorce without the need to prove wrongdoing by the other party. The essential assertion in a no-fault divorce is that the marriage has broken down beyond repair and there is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation.

When a divorce is sought on the grounds of irreconcilable differences, the parties are essentially stating that their marital relationship cannot continue due to deep-seated and fundamental disagreements or conflicts that cannot be resolved. This can cover a wide range of issues, from differences in personality or life goals to more severe conflicts such as constant arguing or lack of emotional support.

The key advantage of citing irreconcilable differences is that it avoid unnecessarily increasing the tension.  This isn’t to say that a divorce based on irreconcilable differences is necessarily going to be a walk in the park. However, a divorce based on fault all but guarantees a no-holds-barred battle, whereas irreconcilable differences at least maintains a chance of an amicable resolution. Since no party is required to prove fault, there is less chance of contention in court, which can lead to a quicker and less costly divorce. It also often results in less emotional stress, as the parties may not have to air their grievances in a public forum or accuse each other of misconduct.

Divorce Based on Fault

In contrast to irreconcilable differences, a fault-based divorce requires one spouse to prove that the other spouse’s misconduct led to the breakdown of the marriage. New Hampshire law recognizes several fault-based grounds for divorce, including adultery, extreme cruelty, habitual drunkenness, and abandonment, among others.

A fault-based divorce can be more complicated and contentious than a no-fault divorce. The spouse who is alleging fault must provide evidence to support their claims, which often involves presenting sensitive or private information in court. This process can increase both the duration and the cost of the divorce proceedings.

The decision to file for a fault-based divorce may be strategic. For instance, proving fault may affect the division of marital assets, alimony, or child custody arrangements. New Hampshire courts may consider the behavior of the parties when making these determinations. For example, a spouse found at fault for adultery may potentially receive a less favorable financial settlement or may be impacted in child custody decisions, depending on the circumstances.

Choosing Between Irreconcilable Differences and Fault-Based Divorce

The choice between filing for divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences or fault depends on several factors. These include the specific circumstances of the marriage, the goals of the parties, and the potential legal and financial outcomes of each option.

  1. Simplicity and Cost: Fault based divorces are often going to be more expensive and drawn out. If the primary goal is to end the marriage with minimal legal fees and emotional turmoil, citing irreconcilable differences is often preferable.
  2. Legal and Financial Strategy: If there are significant assets at stake or concerns regarding child custody, a fault-based divorce might provide strategic advantages in court. However, this comes with the risk of a more drawn-out and contentious process.
  3. Emotional Considerations: The nature of the allegations in a fault-based divorce can cause additional emotional pain and damage relationships further, which can be particularly detrimental if children are involved.

In New Hampshire, couples have the option to dissolve their marriage by citing either irreconcilable differences or specific fault grounds. The choice between these options should be made carefully, considering the legal, financial, and emotional implications of each. While irreconcilable differences allow for a smoother and typically less confrontational process, a fault-based divorce might be appropriate in situations where one party’s behavior has clearly led to the breakdown of the marital relationship, especially when it might impact financial or custodial outcomes.

If you need help navigating a divorce, contact us. Our team at Cohen and Winters is here to help you get through one of the most difficult times in life and come out stronger.

What are irreconcilable differences as opposed to a divorce based on fault?

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