Nevada is one of 17 states in the U.S. where divorce is considered “no fault.” This means that it’s not necessary to cite the reason, such as infidelity or abandonment. In fact, Nevada is one of the easiest states in which to obtain a divorce because of minimal residency requirements (six weeks) and no waiting period after filing for divorce.
In a majority of states, no-fault divorce is not the law. About five years ago, a divorce case in North Carolina made national news when “the other man” was found liable for the breakup of a high-profile marriage and was assessed damages in excess of $8 million. It’s called Alienation of Affection, and it’s actually a cause of action in seven states. If the jilted spouse can prove that (a) there was love in the marriage; (b) the love was destroyed or alienated; and (c) the defendant caused or contributed to the loss of affection, a successful lawsuit is likely.
As a divorce mediator, I can tell you that the subject of infidelity comes up frequently in my office. My clients often feel the need to explain to me why they’re getting divorced, even though we’re in the land of the no-fault divorce. Yet not surprisingly, I’ve never once heard a client say, “the divorce is my fault.”
It’s human nature to assess blame first and responsibility later. I get that. But let’s look in the mirror here. Someone once told me, “If you’re happy in your relationship, it doesn’t matter who dances naked in front of you.” Putting that into context means that when infidelity occurs, it’s a matter of choice. Blaming the ‘naked dancer’ is like blaming the local liquor store for alcoholism.
Instead, take a brutally honest look at yourself. What was your contribution to the demise of your relationship? I can tell you firsthand that relationships don’t end overnight, and it’s never only one partner’s fault. Were you working too many hours? Were you paying too little attention to your spouse? Were you taking each other for granted?
Once your divorce is final, will you be able to get past the blame and move on with your life? I hope so. Will you take some responsibility for what went wrong in your relationship? I hope so. And will you take the opportunity to learn from your experience so as not to repeat it? I hope so.
On the other hand, if you live in Hawaii, Illinois, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Dakota, or Utah, you can sue the person who allegedly wrecked your marriage. In North Carolina alone, I’m told that there are about 200 cases filed every year for Alienation of Affection. I don’t think too many of those cases wind up with a multi-million-dollar judgment, so don’t get your hopes up.
Where do you stand? Do you think it’s important to cite the grounds for divorce (i.e., blame) or do you think that no-fault divorce helps the couple to move forward? Please comment and share your thoughts.