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Do You Still Need to 'Ask' For a Divorce?

This common phrase is a hallmark in soap operas: "I want a divorce!"

This exclamation is commonly followed by someone storming out (usually the woman) and quizzical looks (usually from the man). While this makes for good TV, the reality is that people generally don't ask their spouses for divorces.

Why is this? Better yet, why do characters in TV shows continually "ask" for divorces?

One theory is that in the past, divorces would only be granted if fault was proven (i.e. one of the grounds based by statute was proven). However, if the parties agreed to go their separate ways, and settled their differences regarding property and maintenance, the court would grant the divorce. As times have changed, the fault requirement has largely been cast by the waste side, and the law allows courts to grant no-fault divorces.

Essentially, a spouse need only allege that there are irreconcilable differences and that the marriage should be dissolved. The burden of proof is relatively low, and it virtually eliminates the need for a party to "ask" a spouse for a divorce. In fact, if one spouse believes that the marriage is still viable and does not want the divorce to move forward, he or she may be out of luck.

Divorcing parties must still resolve questions regarding property division, spousal support, child custody and child support even in no-fault divorces.

Under Florida law, divorces may still be granted on fault-based grounds (e.g. force or duress in obtaining the marriage, cruel treatment or abuse, willful or continued desertion). Fault may be considered in the distribution of property and in child custody awards.

If you have questions about whether fault may affect your divorce, an experienced family law attorney can advise you.

Source:, 21 Things to Do Before Asking for a Divorce

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