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No-Fault Divorce in California

no fault divorceEnding a marriage can be a difficult decision and the divorce process is an emotional one. In many cases, one party, or both parties feel that they have been mistreated and severely wronged by the other person. However, in many cases, the grievances between spouses will not make any difference in the divorce process, the splitting of resources or in creating custody arrangements. Under California law, divorce is a “no-fault” practice, and not one in which anyone has to prove that the other party did something wrong.

What is a “no-fault” divorce?

In most cases, “no-fault” divorces are based on “irreconcilable differences.” This basically means that the couple cannot find a way to make their marriage work, and any attempts come to a resolution would be unsuccessful. No blame is placed on either party for the marriage coming to an end.

Can I file for a fault-based divorce?

If your spouse committed adultery or other behavior that harmed you, it might seem frustrating to file for a divorce that did not put blame on the other party. You may feel as though you want to be sure that the mistreatment you suffered is clear to the court. However, all divorces in California are “no-fault” divorces. There is no need for one party to prove that the other party did anything wrong.

What if my spouse does not want a divorce?

If one party wants a divorce and the other party wants the marriage to remain intact, the divorce is going to move forward. There is no need for the party seeking the divorce to show that the other party did anything wrong, and so there is not much that can prevent the divorce from moving forward. In some cases, if a person attempts to stall the process, they can find themselves in the position of paying the other party’s attorney’s fees.

Will my spouse’s behavior have any impact on the results of the divorce?

If you are looking to have your spouse punished for adultery, or just generally being cruel, then no. If your spouse was abusive, this could impact things like alimony considerations and custody arrangements if children are involved. Generally, bad behavior by one spouse to another, as long as it does not rise to the level of abuse, will not play a role in determining the outcome of the matters being contested in the divorce.

Of course, disrespectful or otherwise bad behavior during the course of the marriage, and bad behavior before the court are different things. If your spouse is lying during the divorce proceedings, making false statements or accusations about you, or hiding assets from the court this type of behavior could expose them to sanctions.

Do we have to live separately before filing for divorce?

While some states do require that you live separately for some time prior to filing for divorce, in California, you do not have to live in separate residences before you file for divorce. You can live in the same house, and even in the same room and it will not impact your ability to get a divorce.

If you are in the San Bernardino, Riverside, or Inland Empire area of Southern California and have questions about California divorce law, contact Milligan, Beswick, Levine & Knox, LLP at 909-798-3300 for a free consultation.

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Stephen Levine, is a Board Certified Specialist in Criminal Defense — an honor achieved by only the top criminal law attorneys in California. Mr. Levine has over 40 years of experience in criminal defense and family law serving Southern California, and is a highly regarded Super Lawyer as well as AV Rated attorney.