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Marital Fault and California Divorce

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Are you considering divorce? If so, has your spouse done something wrong, such as commit adultery, have an emotional affair on Facebook or fail to take care of the family?

If your spouse has done something that society would consider deplorable, you may be wondering if your spouse's misconduct could be used to your advantage in court.

Even if your spouse had an affair or was controlling and emotionally abusive, the chances of their behavior affecting the divorce settlement are slim because California is a no-fault divorce state.

California passed its no-fault divorce statute in 1969. Since then, couples who divorce no longer assign blame for the breakdown of the marriage. Instead, they cite “irreconcilable differences.”

But what about marital misconduct? For the most part, judges won't consider marital misconduct when it comes to property and debt division, spousal support, child custody and support.

California is a community property state, which means that all marital property acquired during the marriage is divided 50/50 among the spouses, regardless of either spouse's misconduct.

Even if a spouse had a year-long affair, or treated the other spouse poorly, family law judges would consider such behavior irrelevant when deciding on the terms of the divorce.

Are there any exceptions to the rule?

Occasionally, the courts may consider a spouse's misconduct when deciding on the terms of the divorce. For example, if the court finds out that a spouse was hiding assets or lying during the divorce proceedings, the court may order that spouse to pay money to their soon-to-be-ex.

Domestic violence is another issue, especially when children are involved. Generally, a child custody decision can be affected if there is evidence of domestic violence. Some of the best evidence of abuse includes a domestic violence arrest or conviction and a restraining order.

To file for divorce in Los Angeles, contact Claery & Hammond, LLPfor a free consultation.


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