California is a no-fault state, meaning you don’t have to make a case for why you want a divorce from your spouse. So even if your partner was cheating on you, infidelity can’t and won’t influence the judge’s decision on the division of assets and liabilities, spousal support, or child visitation & support.
When it comes down to it, divorce papers simply offer an option to select “irreconcilable differences” as the reason for divorce. “Irreconcilable differences” means you or your spouse don’t see a way to stay together, and neither side is particularly at fault.
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Why is California a No-Fault Divorce State?
California was the first to become a no-fault divorce state after the California Family Law Act was signed into law in 1969. The law was enacted to stop the divorce process from continually being reduced to a theater of lying and hostility to prove fault.
To get divorced before 1970, couples had to prove that one party was to blame for the breakdown of the marriage. Unfortunately, this often meant having to air dirty laundry in court and going through a lengthy and expensive legal battle. As a result, parties often resorted to fabricating claims about abuse or cheating to “win” the divorce — even if the real reason was that they simply didn’t get along. Not only was this damaging for each party, but children in such cases were also the unfortunate victims, becoming pawns in heated court battles and having to witness their parents act out.
The no-fault divorce law attempted to change all of that by allowing couples to divorce without having to assign blame. This simple change has had a profound impact on the way divorce is handled in California, and it has helped make the process much more streamlined and efficient. By removing the requirement to assign blame, judges are no longer influenced or pressured to punish the at-fault party. Cases are now solely focused on upholding the state’s community property laws or enforcing clauses in prenuptial agreements without subjective bias.
Today, all states recognize no-fault divorce — or at least a variation (e.g., divorce on the grounds of “separation”). However, in over two-thirds of the states, you still have the option of filing for a fault divorce. In “pure” no-fault divorce states, your only option for filing for divorce is no-fault.
Aside from California, seventeen other states are pure no-fault divorce states: Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and Wisconsin.
Benefits of a No-Fault Divorce
The most significant advantage of a no-fault divorce is that it saves you time and money. Fault-based divorces often involve lengthy court battles as each spouse tries to prove that the other was at fault for the marriage’s demise. But with a no-fault divorce, the process can be much simpler and quicker.
In addition, no-fault divorces can help keep the peace between spouses. When fault is assigned in a divorce, it can often lead to finger-pointing and blame-shifting. But with a no-fault divorce, you and your spouse can avoid the unnecessary and exhausting drama and simply move on with your lives.
Your attorney-client relationship becomes focused on achieving your financial and personal goals during and after the divorce. Amicable options like mediation become the powerful tools in the divorce case to smoothly end your marriage and successfully navigate the next chapter of your life.
Sometimes, divorce is the kindest path for you and your spouse. A no-fault divorce is meant to make the process more straightforward, but there’s no denying that it’s still challenging to go through, and some cases are more complex than others.
If you and your spouse are considering a no-fault divorce in California, I’d be happy to chat. Schedule a free consultation with me to get started on making the right legal and financial decisions for your future.