A no fault divorce is not the same as an uncontested divorce. A no fault divorce refers to the grounds for the divorce, typically separation, incompatibility, or irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. In any of these cases, neither spouse holds the other responsible. An uncontested divorce refers to the level of agreement between the spouses regarding the grounds for divorce. While fault divorces can be uncontested (one spouse admits fault for the destruction of the marriage and settlement ensues), it's more common for no fault divorces to be uncontested, since neither party blames the other and the desire for divorce is mutual.

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To file for an uncontested no fault divorce, you should first check to see if your state grants no fault divorces. If your state allows no fault divorces, you should determine whether you are eligible to file, since residency requirements vary from state to state. Also, some states demand an initial period of separation before you can file for a no fault divorce.

If you qualify to file for a no fault divorce, there are some basic steps you must take.

  • You must file a "Petition for Divorce or Dissolution of Marriage."  Check with your local county clerk for the Petition form.
  • You must serve your spouse with the Petition and a Summons (different states have different service processes and rules about who can serve the papers. Publication is only used as a last resort if the other spouse cannot be contacted.)
  • Your spouse must file a response (or acceptance form or voluntary appearance form), otherwise the divorce goes into default judgment.
  • Usually you and your spouse then enter a waiting period. This is the time to work on your Marital Separation Agreement and arrange a court hearing date.
  • If the divorce is uncontested and both parties have reached a Settlement Agreement that the judge deems fair, a divorce is granted.
  • If the divorce is contested (you and your spouse can't agree on a settlement), or the judge thinks the settlement is not fair, your hearing can last much longer.

Check with your state to see what additional steps are necessary, determine which forms you need, and find out where to file.

If you need more help, it's best to Find a Divorce Lawyer.

Get started Visit our Divorce Center Get divorce documents and ask a lawyer your questions.

Get started Visit our Divorce Center Get divorce documents and ask a lawyer your questions.