News and Resources

What is the Meaning Behind No-Fault Divorce in the State of California?

California DivorceSan Diego, CA – During a divorce, it’s common for spouses to lob accusations at one another. Maybe one spouse cheated, the other didn’t handle finances correctly, or the couple found themselves at odds over how to raise the children properly.

In the state of California, all divorces are considered “no fault.” According to San Diego divorce lawyer, John Griffith of Griffith, Young, and Lass, no-fault means that spouses seeking divorce don’t have to prove one or the other did something wrong. California law calls this “irreconcilable differences.”

“Irreconcilable differences essentially means that there are fundamental disagreements between both parties, and they can’t or won’t be resolved. These differences have so severely damaged the relationship that it can no longer be saved,” Griffith said.

In other words, no matter how awfully one spouse was treated by the other, marital misconduct is mostly irrelevant when it comes to divvying up property and child custody, and when calculating alimony and child support.

California is a community property state, which means that all marital property owned during the marriage will be divided equally, independent of misconduct by either spouse.

There is a second set of circumstances that can lead to divorce. If one spouse suffers from incurable insanity, the other spouse may initiate and finalize the divorce under California law.

The Reasons Behind No-Fault Divorces

When spouses don’t have to testify as to why their marriage failed, emotional healing and courtroom processes are greatly expedited. No-fault divorce proceedings also prevent the spouses from getting into heated arguments.

No-Fault Beginnings

The first no-fault statute in California was passed in 1969. California was, in fact, the first state to pass no-fault divorce law. Before the Family Law Act of 1969 was passed, couples in California could only proceed with divorce if they could plead fault-based grounds like adultery, desertion, or extreme cruelty.

Exceptions to Every Rule

In very limited circumstances, California law may consider one spouse’s wrongdoing when determining the terms of the divorce. Griffith cites two examples.

“If one spouse hides assets or lies during the divorce process, the court may impose sanctions on that spouse. This essentially means that the court may require the dishonest spouse to pay money to the other party,” said Griffith.

Griffith adds that California courts will do what’s in the best interests of the children when determining child custody. While child custody negotiations will never be used to “punish” one spouse for wrongdoing, the court may consider behavior like domestic violence when making a custody determination.

To file for no-fault divorce in California, both spouses must have lived in the state for at least six months before filing. To learn more about the California divorce process, contact John Griffith of Griffith, Young & Lass in San Diego.

© 2017 Millionairium and Griffith, Young & Lass. Authorization to post is granted, with the stipulation that Millionairium and Griffith, Young & Lass are credited as sole source. Linking to other sites from this document is strictly prohibited, with the exception of herein imbedded links.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Meet Your Dedicated San Diego Family Attorneys
Family Attorney John N. Griffith, CFLS
Family Attorney John N. Griffith, CFLS

Family Attorney, John N. Griffith, CFLS

John Griffith has practiced exclusively in the area of family law since 2009. John is a Certified Family Law Specialist certified as an expert in the area of family law by the California Board of Legal Specialization.


Family Attorney, Catie E. Young, ESQ.
Family Attorney, Catie E. Young, ESQ.

Family Attorney, Catie E. Young, ESQ.

San Diego family lawyer Catie Young has a wide range of litigation experience. She has worked in civil litigation. She has successfully represented clients in many areas of family law including child support, child custody, divorce and domestic violence. She has a unique approach to each child custody case, so clients of Griffith, Young & Lass tend to gravitate toward her in these cases.


Family Attorney Amy J. Lass, Esq.
Family Attorney Amy J. Lass, Esq.

Family Attorney, Amy J. Lass, Esq.

Amy Lass was born in New York and raised in San Diego, California. Amy graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in 2003 with a B.S. in Economics with a concentration in Enterprise Accounting and went on to earn her law degree from Thomas Jefferson School of Law and graduated cum laude in 2006. Amy takes a practical and cost considerate approach to the process while striving to balance the emotional needs and objectives of her clients.


  • acfis
  • acfis
  • bear
  • bear
  • bear
The Typical Divorce Process in California
Discovery of Assets & Obligations (1-3 months)
1 Complaint for Divorce Filed Start of litigation
2 Complaint is Served Varies, but usually shortly after the complaint is filed
3 Answer to Complaint Due 30 days from the date of service
4 Mediation Anytime, but usually after initial discovery
5 Temporary Hearing Usually early in the process
6 Late Case Evaluation / Judicial Hosted Settlement Conference Usually near the end of the case
7 Trial (If Needed) The goal is to settle, but if your case goes to trial, it could take months after the start of litigation.
We deliver results
I am beyond grateful for the entire staff at Griffith, Young, and Lass. I don't even call myself a client anymore, they are my friends that protected my family and fought with me, side by side.-Erik H., San Diego