No-Fault State Divorce Laws Explained by DoNotPay

Divorce Settlement Agreement No-Fault State Divorce Laws Explained by DoNotPay

No-Fault State? Divorce Is Straightforward With DoNotPay’s Help!

In the past, you had to prove your spouse had done something wrong to be able to file for divorce.

Many states today recognize that some couples simply aren’t made for each other. The law allows no-fault divorce, meaning that you can start divorce proceedings based on incompatibility or breakdown of the marriage.

DoNotPay shows you which the no-fault states are—divorce can be fast, cheap, and painless under no-fault legislation.

What Is a No-Fault Divorce?

A no-fault divorce can be granted without wrongdoing on either side.

In 1969, California became the first state to allow no-fault divorces, and the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (NCCUSL) began drafting uniform law proposals for other states to adopt. By 1985, every state except New York had adopted some form of no-fault legislation.

In a no-fault divorce, one spouse can allege that:

  • The marriage has irretrievably broken down
  • The spouses are irreconcilably different or incompatible

The other spouse does not have to agree and can choose to either contest the divorce or allow it to go through uncontested.

Contesting a no-fault divorce is next to impossible as many judges regard the contest as justification for alleging that the marriage has broken down or the spouses are incompatible.

In most cases, the defending spouse will only be able to contest the settlement offered as part of the divorce.

Which States Offer No-Fault Divorces?

State legislations vary in the options for divorce that they offer.

18 states offer no-fault divorces only, meaning that you cannot allege any wrongdoing against your spouse when you file for divorce. The no-fault divorce state list comprises:

District of ColumbiaKentuckyNevada

All the other states permit either no-fault or fault-based divorces, meaning you can choose which option is likely to lead to the best outcome.

What Are the Pros and Cons of a No-Fault Divorce?

A no-fault divorce offers significant advantages over the traditional, fault-based process—in terms of cost, speed, and convenience—but also one major disadvantage.


No-fault divorces can work out considerably cheaper than fault-based cases, as there is no need to go through the process of proving any wrongdoing.

Allegations of fault need to be proven in court, meaning that the spouse making the allegations may have to hire lawyers, private investigators, or medical practitioners to gather evidence.

A no-fault divorce can avoid these expenses, but costs may still be incurred if your spouse chooses to contest the divorce. A contested divorce will land in court, meaning that your average costs could be in the region of $17,000 per spouse.


The discovery phase of a divorce involves the collecting of facts and evidence to support your divorce case. It takes place between filing divorce papers and serving them on your spouse and your case coming to court.

In a no-fault divorce, there is comparatively little need for evidence, and the only discovery that is required is to ascertain facts relevant to the settlement agreement.


No-fault divorces are easier to file and run than cases with allegations of wrongdoing. Many states provide forms for you to fill in to file your divorce, which makes starting the process easy.

In uncontested or friendly no-fault divorces, you might even be able to avoid court appearances and the need for lawyers altogether. An out-of-court settlement is the first prize for making the process convenient.

Waiting or Separation Periods

On the negative side, some no-fault divorce states have introduced a mandatory waiting period or period of separation before a no-fault divorce can be granted. These states and their stipulations are:

StateSeparation or Waiting Periods
AlabamaOne month
Arkansas18 months
CaliforniaSix months
District of ColumbiaSix months
IllinoisTwo years (or six months with mutual consent by spouses)
IowaThree months
LouisianaSix months (or two years for a covenant marriage)
MarylandTwo years (or one year with mutual consent by spouses)
MassachusettsSeven months (or one month with mutual consent by spouses)
MissouriSix months
MontanaSix months
New Jersey18 months (or six months with mutual consent by spouses)
New YorkOne year
North CarolinaOne year
OhioOne year (or none with mutual consent by spouses)
PennsylvaniaTwo years (or three months with mutual consent by spouses)
South CarolinaOne year
UtahThree months (or none with mutual consent by spouses)
VermontSix months
VirginiaOne year (or six months with mutual consent with no children)
WashingtonThree months
West VirginiaOne year (or none with mutual consent by spouses)

How Can You Make a No-Fault Divorce Even Easier?

The secret to a quick and painless no-fault divorce is to reach a divorce settlement agreement with your spouse before your case comes to court (before you file the papers, if possible).

In some states, you can even file jointly if a settlement agreement is in place. This means that you do not have to serve the papers on your spouse, and you may not be required to attend court—a judge will often look through your settlement agreement to make sure everything is in order before granting your divorce.

Your divorce settlement agreement states what will happen to your joint responsibilities after your divorce, including:

If the judge is happy that your divorce settlement agreement is fair and equitable, your divorce can be granted with little difficulty.

Where Can You Get a Divorce Settlement Agreement?

You and your spouse have several options for having your divorce settlement agreement drawn up, as follows:

  • Lawyer—A lawyer can negotiate and draft your settlement agreement, but this will come at a potentially high cost. If you are agreed on everything, lawyers may be an unnecessary expense. Even if minor points are still outstanding, you can opt for a process of mediation to help you negotiate a full settlement at a fraction of the cost
  • Online—Several online companies offer downloadable settlement agreement templates for you to fill out. The danger with these is that they are often generic and do not cover your specific needs. If a judge is not satisfied that your settlement agreement ticks all the boxes, your uncontested divorce might end up in court

DoNotPay can solve your problems—we can generate a comprehensive and legally airtight settlement agreement for you online in a few clicks!

Nail Your No-Fault, Uncontested Divorce With DoNotPay!

DoNotPay is your partner for making your no-fault divorce run smoothly and efficiently!

Our Divorce Settlement Agreement product gives you a legal document that is exactly tailored to your needs and ready in a flash. All you need to do to set up your agreement is:

  1. Sign up with DoNotPay
  2. Open our Divorce Settlement Agreement feature
  3. Give us the details you have agreed on with your spouse

Once everything is filled in, you will have your document in an instant. You can sign it together with your spouse and have the agreement notarized through our app.

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Don’t bother going through complicated tasks alone—we are here to take care of them! Seek our help if you want to get in touch with customer service instantly, fax anyone online, or get your documents notarized. Besides providing these amazing services, DoNotPay can make preparations for your travel adventures by assisting you in getting passport photos at home and obtaining tourist visas.

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