If you have done any initial investigations into California divorces, you have likely seen the terms “fault” and “no-fault.” What do these terms mean? What is the difference between fault and no-fault divorce? What should you be aware of regarding fault and no-fault divorce if you are planning to seek a California divorce? We will answer these questions and more here.
What is the Difference Between Fault and No-Fault Divorce?
In the past, most states allowed or required fault-based divorces. In a fault-based divorce, the petitioning spouse must assert legal grounds for the divorce, usually asserting some sort of wrongdoing by the other spouse, and prove those grounds by providing credible legal evidence. In a no-fault divorce, neither party needs to assert any wrongdoing. The filing spouse need only claim that the marriage is irretrievably broken in order to be granted a divorce.
Some states allow a person to file for a fault or no-fault divorce. California, however, is a pure no-fault state, which means that all California divorces are no-fault.
While California is now a purely no-fault divorce state, it used to allow for traditional fault-based divorces. The grounds for such divorces included abandonment, adultery, and domestic abuse. These fault-based grounds for divorce are no longer available. This may seem counterintuitive, or even unfair. If your spouse has had an affair or done something else to wrong you and your marriage, you may want to scream it from the mountaintops, or, at the very least, the halls of a courtroom. The change from fault to a pure no-fault state, however, was intended to make it easier for someone to get a divorce regardless of the circumstances. While claiming a fault-based ground such as adultery in open court may feel cathartic, proving such allegations can prove frustrating and a needless obstacle to the ultimate goal of getting divorced. With a no-fault divorce, no such evidence is needed and your spouse cannot challenge the grounds for the divorce to make things even more difficult for you.
You may now be wondering if those previous fault-based grounds for divorce have any such bearing on divorce proceedings now. Is it even relevant that your spouse had an affair? Does it matter in divorce proceedings if your spouse abused you? An affair or other fault-based grounds will not, in and of themselves, impact issues of a divorce such as alimony, child custody, and property distribution. That is part of California being a pure “no-fault” divorce state. There are, however, ways that the actions of a spouse may impact these issues tangentially. For instance, if your spouse squandered marital funds in pursuit of an affair, you may be entitled to recover your share of the funds used in such exploits. Furthermore, evidence of recklessness surrounding adultery committed or abandonment and a history of domestic violence may have an impact on the child custody determination. Such behavior may be a factor in evaluating the parental fitness of your spouse.
Are you considering a California divorce? Do not wait to get trusted legal counsel by your side. The Law Office of Ronald L. Freeman is here to help you. Contact us today.