When Can You Seek Divorce Because of "Fault"?

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Tricia Walsh-Smith, the now infamous "You-Tube" divorcee, who posted videos on the internet airing sordid details from her marriage, lost in her recent divorce trial after a judge found her behavior to be “cruel and inhuman” and granted her husband a divorce on that basis. While there are many questions as to whether her conduct actually rose to such a level, the biggest question is why the videos were considered in the first place – they were filmed six months after the couple separated.

The Smith divorce took place in New York, the only state that still requires fault grounds in order to obtain a divorce. Pennsylvania also grants divorces under fault grounds, but the strong preference is for "no-fault" divorces – divorces granted without the necessity of proving fault by the husband or wife. Still, fault claims arise in the Commonwealth, so the question can become, what exactly is "fault" and what does it mean to the divorcing parties?

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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