Divorce is hard, and often, it is the actions of one of the parties that leads directly to the divorce.  Infidelity and cruelty are often factors that leads to the break-down of a marriage.  Many prospective clients come into their consultations and want their spouse to have to shoulder the cost of the divorce and/or lose some of his/her rights as a result of actions (infidelity, cruelty, etc.) done during the marriage.  After all, it’s his/her fault.  Right?

Not in this state.  Not since 1969.

In ’69, Governor Ronald Reagan signed into law the first no-fault divorce statute in the nation.  Its purpose was (and is) to eliminate to the need for consent to a divorce, to base financial support on need rather than “guilt,” and to reduce the adversarial nature of the proceedings.  The goal was to make it easier to get a divorce, and it worked.

These days, pursuant, to California Family Code §2310, there are just two grounds for divorce:

1) Irrenconcilable differences, which have caused the irremediable breakdown of the marriage,


2) Incurable insanity.

In general the second ground is never cited; it’s hard to prove, and incurable insanity usually leads to irreconcilable differences, anyway.

“It just isn’t working,” is good enough for the State of California.

This does not mean that events and situations that occured during the marriage don’t have effects on the proceedings.  For instance, domestic violence and sexual abuse can create the rebuttable presumption that the offending party shouldn’t have custody of the children.  Domestic violence can affect awards of spousal support.

But who is at “fault” for breaking up the marriage is not a factor.  In a way, it is a good thing, not just in terms of streamlining divorce, but in transitioning emotionally to a post-marital life.  A divorce predicated on someone being at fault means the “guilty” party can never get past that.  He/she is always the marriage-wrecker.  In a no-fault situation, the parties get what is as close to “fair” as possible, and perhaps coming to terms with the divorce is made easier as a result, for both parties.

Either way, the law is what it is.  Be aware of that when going forward.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog is for general informational purposes and it should not be relied on as legal advice. An attorney-client relationship is not formed by reading the information on this site and can only be formed by a written agreement that sets forth the scope of the relationship and the fee arrangement.

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