At-Fault Grounds for Divorce in California

By Henry F. Lewis on August 10, 2019

Definition of divorce in a dictionaryWhen married couples are unable to make their relationship work, it’s important that they speak with a divorce attorney about the best way to end their marriage. Michael A. Gardner and Henry F. Lewis have assisted numerous clients in the Oakland, CA area with the dissolution of marriage and subsequent matters regarding child custody and alimony.

Many clients claim that the divorce was the fault of their spouse for one reason or another. They wonder if some aspect of fault comes into play in the divorce proceedings. With that in mind, we would like to explore the concept of at-fault divorce and what this means (if anything) for married couples in California.

What Is an At-Fault Divorce?

An at-fault divorce (or just fault divorce) refers to a law in some states regarding the end of the marriage. An at-fault divorce means that a spouse’s actions are the reasons why a divorce is being sought. In essence, that spouse is the one at-fault for the divorce.

Some grounds for an at-fault divorce include:

  • Physical abuse
  • Mental/emotional abuse
  • Adultery and infidelity
  • Desertion from the home for an extended amount of time
  • Prison sentences

In each of the cases above, you’ll note that there is some sort of inflicted harm or a lack of fulfilling some reasonable duty when it comes to one of the spouses in the marriage.

Does Every State Observe At-Fault Divorce Laws?


Each state can have varying laws when it comes to divorce. While some states recognize at-fault divorces, that is not true of all states in America. Which brings us to the next topic.

Is There At-Fault Divorce in California?


California is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that fault need not be established in order to seek a divorce. That’s something that numerous clients at our Oakland law firm do not realize.

The Advantages of California’s No-Fault Divorce Laws

While the idea of no-fault divorce may seem like a disadvantage, it actually has a number of benefits for spouses seeking to end a marriage.

The biggest benefit is that a no-fault divorce cannot be contested by your spouse as an at-fault divorce could be contested. In an at-fault divorce, a spouse may try to prevent the other spouse from filing for divorce on various grounds, including claims that the spouse actually approves of the cited behavior or that the spouse tried to orchestrate a situation that would be grounds for at-fault divorce. This is particularly important to consider in cases of domestic abuse or child endangerment.

Generally, most states are not willing to force couples to stay together when they have irreconcilable differences of various kinds. Keep in mind that no-fault divorce does not mean your spouse wasn’t harmful, hurtful, neglectful, or cruel to you; nor does this mean that the spouse’s behavior will be ignored during the divorce process when determining child custody, visitation rights, and spousal support payments.

How Divorce Attorneys Can Help

Even though California is a no-fault divorce state, that does not mean that the dissolution of a marriage is simple. Working with skilled divorce attorneys will help ensure that the divorce is fair and that your side is properly represented throughout the process. We can negotiate better deals and make sure that you are not being taken advantage during this process.

Learn More About Your Options for Ending a Marriage

For more information about the dissolution of a marriage and what legal options you have, be sure to contact a skilled divorce and family law attorney. The Oakland lawyers at Gardner & Lewis, LLP can be reached by phone at (510) 451-4822.

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Oakland Office

1939 Harrison St
Ste 210
Oakland, CA 94612

More Info Directions (510) 451-4822