Role of Marital Misconduct in Dividing Property

The following table provides references to state statutes which are relevant to how marital conduct is considered and treated by the court when determining the property distribution award upon divorce.

State Rule Authority
AL Relevant Ex parte Drummond, 785 So. 2d 358 (Ala. 2000)
AK Not Relevant Jones v. Jones, 942 P.2d 1133 (Alaska 1997)
AZ Not Relevant Ariz. Stat. Ann. 25-318 (Westlaw 2003)
AR apparently Relevant, with threshold Stover v. Stover, 287 Ark. 116, 696 S.W.2d 750 (1986) (considering conspiracy to murder); Keathley v. Keathley, 76 Ark. App. 150, 162, 61 S.W.3d 219, 227 (2001) (noting that fault was not relevant under prior statute; under present statute, the division may "be based on action or the failure to act, which in a literal sense of the word, could be considered fault"; citing Stover as an example); no appellate decisions considering ordinary types of fault
CA Not Relevant (mandatory equal division of community property) Cal. Fam. Code 2550 (Westlaw 2003)
CO Not Relevant In re Marriage of Casias, 962 P.2d 999 (Colo. Ct. App. 1998)
CT Relevant Sweet v. Sweet, 190 Conn. 657, 462 A.2d 1031 (1983)
DE Not Relevant Del. Code Ann. tit. 13, 1513(a) (Westlaw 2003)
DC Relevant Dews v. Dews, 632 A.2d 1160 (D.C. 1993)
FL Not Relevant Childers v. Childers, 640 So. 2d 108 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App.1994)
GA Relevant Peters v. Peters, 248 Ga. 490, 283 S.E.2d 454 (1981)
HI Not Relevant Markham v. Markham, 80 Haw. 274, 909 P.2d 602 (Ct. App. 1996)
ID Not Relevant Present statute (Idaho Code Ann. 32-712 (Westlaw 2003)) is silent on fault, which prior statute expressly listed as a factor; no appellate case law considering fault; see also Olsen v. Olsen, 98 Idaho 10, 17, 557 P.2d 604, 611 (1976) (Shepard, J., dissenting) ("[T]he legislature has eliminated fault from consideration in disposing of community property upon divorce")
IL Not Relevant In re Getautas, 189 Ill. App. 3d 148, 544 N.E.2d 1284 (1989)
IN Not Relevant R.E.G. v. L.M.G., 571 N.E.2d 298 (Ind. Ct. App. 1991)
IA Not Relevant In re Marriage of Goodwin, 606 N.W.2d 315 (Iowa 2000)
KS Relevant with threshold; "rare and unusual situation[s] where a party’s conduct is so gross and extreme that failure to penalize therefor would, itself, be inequitable" In re Marriage of Sommers, 246 Kan. 652, 658-59, 792 P.2d 1005, 1010 (1990)
KY Not Relevant Brosick v. Brosick, 974 S.W.2d 498 (Ky. Ct. App. 1998)
LA Not Relevant (mandatory equal division of community property) La. Rev. Stat. Ann. 9:2801(A)(4)(b)
ME Not Relevant Boyd v. Boyd, 421 A.2d 1356 (Me. 1980)
MD Relevant Freedenburg v. Freedenburg, 123 Md. App. 729, 720 A.2d 948 (1998)
MA Relevant Ross v. Ross, 385 Mass. 30, 430 N.E.2d 815 (1982)
MI Relevant Sparks v. Sparks, 440 Mich. 141, 485 N.W.2d 893 (1992)
MS Relevant Carrow v. Carrow, 642 So. 2d 901 (Miss. 1994)
MO Relevant Fields v. Fields, 643 S.W.2d 611 (Mo. Ct. App. 1982)
MT Not Relevant In re Marriage of Hanni, 299 Mont. 20, 997 P.2d 760 (2000)
NE apparently Not Relevant No appellate case law considering fault; fault is irrelevant to alimony, e.g., Else v. Else, 219 Neb. 878, 367 N.W.2d 701 (1985), and Neb. Rev. Stat. Ann. 42-365 (Westlaw 2003) uses the same factors to determine both alimony and property division
NV Not Relevant Wheeler v. Upton-Wheeler, 113 Nev. 1185, 946 P.2d 200 (1997)
NH essentially Relevant Chabot v. Chabot, 126 N.H. 793, 795, 497 A.2d 851, 852 (1985) ("if a fault ground is proven to be the primary cause of the marital breakdown"). But cf. Boucher v. Boucher, 131 N.H. 377, 380, 553 A.2d 313, 315 (1988) ("[F]ault may not be considered in making a division of property following a no-fault divorce decree").
NJ Not Relevant Chalmers v. Chalmers, 65 N.J. 186, 320 A.2d 478, 483 (1974)
NM Not Relevant (mandatory equal division of community property) Trego v. Scott, 125 N.M. 323, 961 P.2d 168 (Ct. App. 1998)
NY Relevant with threshold; "egregious cases which shock the conscience of the court" O’Brien v. O’Brien, 66 N.Y.2d 576, 589, 489 N.E.2d 712, 719, 498 N.Y.S.2d 743, 750 (1985)
NC Not Relevant Smith v. Smith, 314 N.C. 80, 331 S.E.2d 682 (1985)
ND Relevant Wald v. Wald, 556 N.W.2d 291 (N.D. 1996)
OH Not Relevant Lemon v. Lemon, 42 Ohio App. 3d 142, 537 N.E.2d 246 (1988)
OK Not Relevant Smith v. Smith, 847 P.2d 827 (Okla. Ct. App. 1993)
OR Not Relevant In re Koch, 58 Or. App. 252, 648 P.2d 406 (1982)
PA Not Relevant Perlberger v. Perlberger, 426 Pa. Super. 245, 626 A.2d 1186 (1993)
RI Relevant Conley v. Conley, 508 A.2d 676 (R.I. 1986)
SC Relevant Woodside v. Woodside, 290 S.C. 366, 350 S.E.2d 407 (1986)
SD Not Relevant S.D. Codified Laws 25-4-45.1 (Westlaw 2003)
TN Not Relevant Bowman v. Bowman, 836 S.W.2d 53 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1991)
TX Relevant Young v. Young, 609 S.W.2d 758 (Tex. 1980)
UT unclear see notes
VT Relevant Daitchman v. Daitchman, 145 Vt. 145, 483 A.2d 270 (1984)
VA Relevant Smoot v. Smoot, 233 Va. 435, 357 S.E.2d 728 (1987); O’Loughlin v. O’Loughlin, 20 Va. App. 522, 458 S.E.2d 323 (1995)
VT Relevant Charles v. Charles, 788 F.2d 960 (3d Cir. 1986); Feddersen v. Feddersen, 68 F. Supp. 2d 585 (D.V.I. 1999)
WA Not Relevant In re Marriage of Clark, 13 Wash. App. 805, 538 P.2d 145 (1975)
WV Not Relevant Hastings v. Hastings, 201 W. Va. 354, 497 S.E.2d 203 (1997)
WI Not Relevant Anstutz v. Anstutz, 112 Wis. 2d 10, 331 N.W.2d 844 (Ct. App. 1983)
WY Relevant Hall v. Hall, 40 P.3d 1228 (Wyo. 2002)

© 2003 National Legal Research Group, Inc.


   
NO-FAULT DIVORCE – All jurisdictions now have no-fault divorce statutes. No-fault divorce statutes do not require showing spousal misconduct. In these actions, the court must only find 1) that the relationship is no longer viable, 2) that irreconcilable differences have caused an irremediable breakdown of the marriage, 3) that discord or conflict of personalities have destroyed the marital relationship and prevents any reasonable possibility of reconciliation, or 4) that the marriage is irretrievably broken.

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This section will provide you with the state divorce laws addressing the following issues, but not limited to; Residency Requirements, Grounds for Divorce or Dissolution of Marriage, Legal Separation, Property Division, Child Custody, Child Support, Visitation, and Spousal Support or Alimony.
 

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