Tuesday, December 06, 2016

In Re Marriage of Schu (Cal. Ct. App. - Dec. 6, 2016)

I always thought that California was a no-fault divorce state.

I was wrong.

Apparently how much spousal support ("alimony") you receive can vary depending on how much "at fault" you are.  To the extent that -- as here -- the trial court can permissibly deny all spousal support if you've done something sufficiently bad in the marriage.

So here, the Court of Appeal holds:  "California’s so called “No Fault Divorce” law does not require a court to ignore evidence of fault when deciding spousal support. This is especially the case when the spouse seeking support is guilty of domestic violence. The trial court denied Gomez support under Family Code section 4320, subdivisions (i), (m), (n), and (k)1. We affirm."

So, inter alia, domestic violence is one thing that can convince the trial court that you're not entitled to spousal support at all.  (Even when, as here, the one spouse hasn't worked during pretty much the entire marriage, and instead stays home with the kids.)

You might also think that the domestic violence here is of the classic "husband-beats-wife" type.  It's not.  It's the wife who's guilty of domestic violence.  And she's not even touching the husband.  She's instead giving alcohol to unrelated minors (and having sex with one of them) and cutting off her daughter's hair when she won't give her one of her friend's social media passwords.

That conduct permissibly gets you denied spousal support.