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California No Fault Divorce


California was the first state to implement the no fault divorce laws. It was in 1969 when Governor Ronald Regan passed the “no fault” divorce laws that no longer asked the spouses to prove that the other spouse had committed a wrong doing. They could get the divorce on the grounds that their marriage is no longer “working” and that there are “irreconcilable differences” between them which has caused the” irretrievable” breakdown of the marriage.

Residency requirements in California no fault divorce cases

At least one of the spouses must be residing in the state for the last six months or 180 days for filing a divorce case in California.

California no fault divorce history

California’s first divorce law was passed in 1851, where divorce could be granted on the basis of: impotence, adultery, extreme cruelty, desertion, conviction of felony, fraud etc.

Before promulgating of the no fault divorce laws, it was increasingly felt that there were several unhappy spouses who wish to get divorced but could not prove that the other spouse had erred. Either the “other” had not committed any “wrongdoing” such as adultery, desertion, cruelty, or there just was never any evidence to prove it! Either this case was true or that “legal fictions” were being enacted in the courts where spouses would “act” and bring “evidence” of “adultery” and even “brutality” just to get the divorce decree from the courts! Thus, it was felt imperative that the laws must change and that no fault divorce laws were passed which allowed any unwilling spouse to file for divorce and get rid of a marriage which had “broken down”.

Moreover, no fault divorces are less messy and much easier on children. It is comparatively less traumatic and it is also observed that most of the no fault divorces are also uncontested. It refers to the fact that the spouses do not disagree on matters relating to child custody, child support, spousal support or property division.

Choose between “no fault” and “fault” grounds

Depending upon the circumstances of the case, it is advisable to seek a good attorney who can suggest which ground of divorce should one choose, “fault” or “no fault”. In cases, of “fault” grounds, custody of the child may be an issue to deal about. Regarding division of property after divorce, California divorce laws specify that it is “community property division” where both the spouses actually get 50% of the property share unless a spouse objects and files a petition regarding this issue!

Less messier than “fault grounds”

California no fault divorce laws are gentler on children involved in the divorce, compared to fault-grounds. In the latter case, parents tend to drag the “dirty” details of domestic violence, physical abuse or adultery in the court and hence, it is a bad spectacle in front of the child. This is definitely avoided in the “no fault” grounds.

Some argue that there has been an increase in number of divorces after the no fault divorce laws were first passed in California. Marriage vows have become a joke and “irreconcilable difference” is considered strong enough for divorce. There is a definite impact of unilateral divorce on the women of the society, because of financial losses and also being burdened by child care due to this. Spousal care and child support is also not fully given to them, after all! The debate in favor of no fault divorce laws and against them continues!


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