Prior to the enactment of the "No Fault" divorce system, a party needed to show some fault on the part of the other party such as adultery or abuse to obtain a divorce. The guilty spouse was punished by getting a smaller share of the couple's property or being denied custody of their children while the innocent spouse was rewarded by getting more of the property or custody.
Minnesota is a "No Fault" state for purposes of divorce. "No Fault" divorce is a divorce system where a person can seek a divorce without having to allege some basis of fault of the other party. A divorce will be granted if either party believes that the marriage is over and reconciliation is not likely. Neither party is penalized in the division of property or award of child custody on the basis of "fault".
Because fault is not required to obtain a divorce, the reasons for failure of the marriage generally are not relevant and will not be allowed to be introduced in the proceeding. This is very difficult for some parties to accept especially in those cases where infidelity is the reason for the marriage failure. In a recent publication by the Minnesota Judicial Branch entitled "From the Judges of Family Court: What to Expect … Divorce in Minnesota", the contributors reaffirmed that the law does not allow the courts to be used as a tool for punishment of the unfaithful spouse or allow judges to compensate parties for emotional wounds in most cases. Since emotionally driven cases tend to be the most difficult cases to settle and therefore the most expensive, it is vitally important for the lawyers in these types of cases to identify the issue early on so that the client may be counseled and redirected before settlement becomes impossible .