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San Diego Divorce Attorneys : Is there marital fault in California?
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The power of a Family Court Judge – Marital fault in California?

San Diego Divorce and Family Law Attorney, Paul Staley, released a new YouTube video for people who are curious if: Marital fault in California?

There is something that doesn’t make emotional sense about marital fault – or, really, the absence of it – under California law.  The information here will be celebrated by the offending spouse, and will outrage the victim. In what we’re used to thinking of as a universal conscience, these “faulty” acts are just plain wrong. You were in a committed relationship and the soon to be ex-spouse blew through that boundary by doing something bad. Maybe an affair. Maybe (true story) lying to you about sexual orientation. Something that amounts to a serious betrayal.  I meet with many people who have had their spouses cheat on them or betray them in other significant ways. My client, understandably, wants to extract some payback, right the wrong. He looks to Family Court for this brand of justice, and gets…silence. The law is blind to some “immoral” acts.


Our lawmakers in California were thinking in a pragmatic, linear way when coming up with California’s pioneering “no -fault” divorce. Prior to no-fault becoming law in 1970, divorce took considerably longer and was more protracted before than since.This was largely due to the concept of marital fault. In any pending divorce case, someone had to prove that there was fault. It made divorce  cases go on longer, legal costs go up and created a backlog of cases in the Courts. This was before the creation of a special branch of the courts, now called Family Courts.

Since 1970, family court judges courts stopped taking into account any questions about marital fidelity and many other “moral” issues. Certainly the no-fault principal simplified divorce, cut down on litigation costs and whittled down a huge backlog of divorce cases. Whether you love it, hate it, or just resign yourself to it, no-fault is the law of the land. For some, that means their experience in Family Court will have a hollow place where some vindication might otherwise have been. For those people, the absence of marital fault means that California law is missing a moral component they yearn for. They have trouble adjusting, but must adjust, to focusing only on those things over which they have some control.

Transcript of Paul’s Video

Marital fault in California?

California was the pioneer of the so-called “no fault divorce” back in the early seventies. What no fault eventually means is: “no one has to be at fault” in order for there to be divorce judgment entered. Not only does no one have to be at fault, we don’t really care if anyone is at fault. A classic example would be one spouse or the other has an affair. Completely irrelevant in proceedings. Now, it may be irrelevant to the issue of whether or not a judgment of divorce will be entered, it might be relevant on the issue of spousal support. There is a presumption, under the family code, that if one spouse is living with someone of the opposite sex that then there is a reduced need for spousal support. So, I suppose in that way fault could at least be indirectly related, but seldom relevant at all.

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