Marital misconduct, such as infidelity, domestic violence, gambling, and squandering of marital assets certainly plays a role in the demise of countless marriages every year, but does it impact whether a party can obtain a divorce in California? Similarly, in what way if any can bad behavior by one spouse or the other impact child custody, child support, spousal support, property and debt division? In this article, we explain if, when, and how marital misconduct can impact a California divorce.
Before we dig deeper into marital misconduct and divorce, it’s important to understand that California is a no-fault divorce state. Under California’s no-fault divorce laws, all spouses need to do to obtain a divorce is state their marriage is irretrievably broken; there is no need to point the finger at another spouse and blame them for the breakdown of the marriage. Unlike some states, Californians do not have the option of filing for divorce on fault-based grounds, such as adultery and cruel and inhumane treatment. In fact, if such evidence is introduced at trial the court will often reject it as irrelevant; but as noted in this article, not always.
Can There Be Consequences for Misconduct?
Common forms of marital misconduct include cheating, domestic violence, alcohol or drug abuse, wasting marital assets (sometimes in anticipation of divorce), hiding marital assets, and gambling. Can these impact a California divorce? It depends on the circumstances. For example, unlike in some states, cheating does not usually impact a California divorce; it doesn’t usually bar a cheating spouse from receiving spousal support either. There are ways, however, that marital misconduct can affect divorce proceedings.
Common ways marital misconduct can impact a California divorce:
- Adultery does not usually impact a California divorce, but it can when the cheating spouse wasted marital assets on the paramour, for example, on dinners, hotel rooms, vacations, gifts, etc. If an adulterous spouse wastes marital assets on an affair and it can be traced, it can impact property division. Adultery does not normally impact child custody, but it could if the cheating spouse neglected their parenting duties to be with their romantic partner, or engaged openly in an affair in front of the children.
- The wasteful dissipation of marital assets can impact property division, but it doesn’t have to be related to an extra-marital affair. When a spouse squanders extraordinary marital assets on themselves or when they max out credit cards, or when they waste money or give it away in anticipation of divorce, it can affect their share of the settlement.
- Domestic violence can impact spousal support and child custody. If it can be proven that a spouse was abusive, he or she may not be entitled to spousal support that they would have otherwise been entitled to. And if the parent was abusive, the judge could determine that the abusive parent should not get custody of the children.
If marital misconduct has been an issue in the breakdown of your marriage and you would like to know how it may affect the outcome of your divorce, contact The Law Office of David A. Martin & Associates by calling (916) 299-3936 today.