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The benefits of no-fault divorce

On Behalf of | Jun 7, 2024 | Divorce |

Divorce is hard. It can be technically challenging, financially risky and emotionally devastating.

So, if you’re going through the divorce process right now, it may not make you feel any better to hear this, but it used to be much, much worse.

California was first state to enshrine no-fault divorce into law

Not all that long ago, a spouse had to argue grounds for divorce. This meant one spouse had to accuse the other of adultery, cruelty or one of the other acceptable grounds. Even if both spouses agreed that the marriage was no longer working and both desired the divorce, they had to go through this argument.

What’s more, they had to make this argument in court, where it was made public. The process was expensive, time-consuming and frequently humiliating.

And then, in 1969, then-California Gov. Ronald Reagan signed no-fault divorce into law. It was the first such law in the nation, but other states followed. Today, every state has some variation of no-fault divorce.

Each state has its own version of no-fault divorce. Under California law, either party can initiate divorce proceedings. They do not need permission from the other spouse and they do not need to prove adultery, cruelty or any such ground. Instead, they must say that the marriage has broken down because of irreconcilable differences.


By eliminating the need for grounds, California removed some of the biggest obstacles to seeking a divorce.

Neither party has to gather evidence of the grounds and present it to the court. This saves legal expenses and spares the parties from making embarrassing information public. It also makes it much easier for a party to get out of an abusive marriage.

This system takes the emphasis away from blame and puts it on resolving the issues at hand: property division, spousal support and child custody.


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