“My wife slept with my best friend while we were married and now I have to pay her alimony?” Having to make spousal support payments to your ex-wife (who now lives with your ex best friend who single-handedly was responsible for breaking up your marriage in the first place (unlikely) seems so wrong on so many levels. Regardless, it’s true so you best just move on and try to get over it. California divorce is “no fault” which means that no matter what one party did to the other, community property is divided 50/50, child support is a formula and spousal support is a mishmash of statutory factors, none of which has to do with infidelity.
Because you see, before California became a no fault state, (a law signed by Ronald Reagan in 1970) divorces were even more ugly – I know, hard to believe. In order to get divorced you had to prove that one party was at fault…infidelity and cruelty often topped the list. The courtrooms were rife with perjury as divorcing couples fabricated stories in collusion so they could convince a judge to grant them their freedom. Even in the typical case where the husband and wife just fell out love they were forced to make up stuff…pictures and all…which then of course became part of the court record. So, given the alternative, no fault divorce is actually a good law. Of course, like any good law, a good law with the wrong set of facts can become a bad bad thing…like the woman who pays alimony to her husband after catching him in bed with his brother’s wife (talk about some awkward Thanksgiving dinners for awhile).
In any event, California now gives divorcing couples the ability to go their separate ways based on one of two options – “irreconcilable differences” or “incurable insanity.” That second one usually gets a chuckle out of my mediation clients when we are filing out the initial Petition together…see, divorce can be fun.