For the longest time, divorce courts all across the country wanted and needed to know all the dirty details of a divorce before coming to some final decisions. Indeed, many states did not even permit a divorce filing if there was not valid grounds for divorce. A few years ago, New York became the last state to abandon “at-fault” requirements and allow a “no-fault” divorce, such as citing nothing but “irreconcilable differences.”
What happened to grounds for divorce, though? Do divorce courts really not care why you are divorcing, even if your spouse cheated on you, stole from your marital funds, or committed an act of domestic violence? The answer is not exactly cut and dry.
A Judge’s Discretion is Powerful in the Courtroom
In Louisiana, and really any other state, judges in family law courts have ample discretion when making rulings. Technically, no particular fault is needed to file for divorce, and “bad acts” do not automatically decide the rulings in a divorce agreement. However, a judge can decide differently based on presented arguments.
Imagine a situation in which a woman abused her husband in front of their children. Even though there is no statute that says she must lose child custody rights, if the judge can be shown proof of the domestic violence, he or she will almost certainly not want to have that woman raising her kids after the divorce. Or, consider a divorce involving a husband that stole marital funds for gambling in secret. In the divorce, the judge would probably make him pay more alimony, or receive much less, as an informal, unlegislated form of punishment.
In the end, fault in a divorce does not come directly into play due to written regulations and rules, but it still matters. If you have specific reasons for wanting to divorce and you think it could influence the court to see things in your favor, sharing it would be wise. How you present that information, though, is important. You do not want to seem like you are going on the attack just to “get even” but you still need to be convincing.
To find the right balance for your arguments in your divorce, you can contact Scott, Vicknair, Hair and Checki, LLC and our New Orleans family law attorneys. The Super Lawyers® on our team are sure to be able to approach your situation with a unique viewpoint, allowing us to craft a strategy that is tailored to your case. You will find that every step we take is one towards your best interests and a positive conclusion.
Schedule your consultation today and leave the hard work to us.