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Will marital misconduct influence your divorce proceedings?

On Behalf of | Feb 17, 2023 | Divorce |

The bad behavior of one spouse can affect the other. Someone who cheats could expose their spouse to sexually transmitted infections, and someone who gambles could waste marital resources, creating lasting financial hardship. If your spouse has engaged in significant misconduct during your marriage, it is only natural to want justice from the California family courts.

Filing for divorce will mean moving on with your life, but it does not automatically ensure accountability for your spouse. Whether you discovered a mountain of gambling debt or uncovered an extramarital affair, you may hope that the courts would help you hold your spouse accountable for their misconduct during your marriage.

Can their bad behavior influence the outcome of your divorce?

No-fault divorce limits their consequences

No-fault divorces are often faster and cheaper than fault-based divorces where one spouse has to prove the other did something seriously wrong. Unfortunately, the no-fault approach to divorce in California typically means that even significant misconduct has minimal influence on the actual court proceedings for divorce.

With the exception of behaviors that trigger penalty clauses in marital agreements or leave clear financial records, most misconduct will have very little impact on divorce proceedings. Judges typically don’t consider misconduct when dividing property or making parenting plans. The few exceptions to this rule may include documented cases of domestic violence and the dissipation of marital resources.

Mediation or settling outside of court could lead to justice

Although you can’t necessarily expect a family law judge to care about your spouse’s misconduct, you may be able to leverage that bad behavior during negotiations with your spouse or mediation. They may make certain confessions to you as a way of acknowledging and making up for their bad behavior.

However, unless you have evidence of direct financial misconduct, like spending your marital assets on an affair, a judge is unlikely to give much weight to marital misconduct as they settle matters in your divorce. While it may feel unfair, it may be better to let go of unrealistic expectations than to fight for terms that judges are unlikely to grant.

Learning more about no-fault divorces in California and your options for settling your current disagreements can help you prepare for your upcoming divorce.