What Is “No Fault” Divorce?

In California a dissolution of marriage (i.e. divorce) is most often based on irreconcilable differences. The only other basis is incurable insanity which is rarely used.

The issue of fault is not considered in determining if a divorce should be granted. In 1969 the legislature determined it was not necessary for a court to determine who or what caused the breakdown of the marriage before granting the divorce.

The most frequently asked questions that come up at the beginning of a case are:

1. Question: If I do not want the divorce can I stop it?

Answer: No. Anyone is entitled to terminate the marriage provided irreconcilable differences exist. Only one spouse has to claim that the marriage is irretrievably broken. The parties do not need to agree on this for the divorce to be granted.

2. Question: He/she cheated. Does that mean I get more support?

Answer: No. Cheating does not result in a greater spousal or child support award.

3. Question: Does his/her bad behavior influence the outcome of a divorce in any way?

Answer: Yes. Bad behavior does influence how the courts rule on a variety of significant issues that arise in divorce, including the issues of custody, support and in limited circumstances, payment of attorney fees. Bad behavior includes domestic violence, alcohol or drug abuse, child abduction, attempted murder of spouse.