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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.

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