What Does it mean that CA is a "No Fault State"

California is a “no fault” jurisdiction which means anyone who is married has the right to a divorce without having to prove cause. In many states when seeking the dissolution of their marriage, a person must provide evidence of “cause” for the Court to grant them a divorce. Evidence of abandonment, infidelity or fraud are but a few causes on which a court can grant a divorce. In California you don’t need to give a reason for getting a divorce. In fact, evidence of infidelity etc.. is not even allowed to be introduced.  

When filing a Petition for Divorce, most applicants base their request on “irreconcilable differences” and nothing more is needed. It is said that California divorce law developed in such a way to allow for the ease of multiple marriages prevalent in Hollywood and the entertainment industry. Whether that is true or not, the result is the same; in the Golden State, you can get a divorce for any reason or no reason at all.  That is not to say however, that making the decision to marry, or divorce should be taken lightly. While getting a divorce may be your right, the financial and emotional consequences of marriage and divorce can be lifelong.

Navigating Divorce in California: Understanding the "No Fault" Jurisdiction

California is known for its progressive approach to divorce law, being a "no fault" jurisdiction where couples can dissolve their marriage without having to prove a specific cause. Unlike many other states, where evidence of abandonment, infidelity, or fraud is required, California allows couples to seek a divorce without assigning blame - more than that, submitting evidence of infidelity is not even allowed in a divorce proceeding.

This blog post explores the unique aspects of California's divorce laws, sheds light on the historical context behind them, and emphasizes the importance of approaching marriage and divorce decisions with careful consideration.

Exploring California's "No Fault" Divorce System


In California, filing a Petition for Divorce is a relatively straightforward process. Instead of providing evidence of a specific cause, most applicants simply cite "irreconcilable differences" as the basis for their divorce request. This term implies that the couple's marriage has reached a point where it cannot be salvaged, without the need to delve into specific reasons. The aim of the "no fault" system is to reduce conflict and promote amicable settlements, allowing both parties to move forward with their lives.

Origins of California's Divorce Laws

Rumors abound that California's divorce laws were designed to accommodate the unique circumstances of Hollywood and the entertainment industry. While this may be speculative, it is true that California's lenient approach to divorce has facilitated the ease of multiple marriages among celebrities. However, the practical effect of this legislation is that it offers Californians the freedom to end their marriages without requiring a detailed explanation or evidence of wrongdoing.

The Importance of Prudent Decision-Making

While California's divorce laws provide individuals with the right to dissolve their marriages without proving fault, it is crucial to recognize that the decision to marry or divorce should never be taken lightly. The financial and emotional consequences of both marriage and divorce can be long-lasting. It is essential to approach these life-changing decisions with thoughtful consideration, seeking professional guidance if necessary. 

Understanding the implications and potential ramifications of divorce can help individuals make informed choices and navigate the process more smoothly.

What is a child custody evaluation and how long does it take?

In high conflict custody cases, the Court may appoint a child custody evaluator to assess the family and make recommendations to the Court regarding whether one parent should have sole legal and/or sole physical custody, subject to the other parent’s visitation, or whether the parents should share custody, among other custody-related recommendations.  

Child custody evaluators are mental health professionals who have completed specific education and training to become certified as experts.  In California, the appointment of child custody evaluators is governed by Evidence Code §730 and Family Code §3111.  

The Child Custody Evaluation Process

Once appointed, the custody evaluator will interview both parents and child(ren), as well as “collateral” witnesses designated by each party, which may include teachers, pediatricians, extended family members, significant others, friends, and anyone else who may have useful information to share.  In addition, over the course of the evaluation, each side will have the opportunity to submit relevant Court pleadings and other documents to the evaluator for review, which can be laborious.  

At the conclusion of the evaluation, the evaluator will submit a confidential report to the parents and the Court which includes a summary of interviews and documents the evaluator has reviewed, background information about both parents and the family, the results of any psychological testing that may have been performed at the evaluator’s request, the evaluator’s opinions, and custody recommendations, which are non-binding.  

If the parties do not stipulate to accept the evaluator’s recommendations, or otherwise resolve their custody dispute, then there will be a custody review hearing on the evaluator’s recommendations, and the Court will make orders.  

How long does a child custody evaluation take?

Most evaluations take anywhere from 3-12 months to complete and range in cost from $25,000-$50,000.  However, both the duration and cost of the evaluation from start to finish varies on a case-to-case basis, determined in large part by the nature of each parent’s requests, the complexity of issues to be resolved, the evaluator’s availability, and the cooperation of the parties.  

For example, cases involving domestic violence and/or substance abuse, whether documented or alleged, or a request by one parent to relocate with the minor child(ren), can prolong the process.  

Are you looking for legal help concerning child custody? Valencia-Taghavi offers premium Family Law services for the Los Angeles Area. Request a call back from our expert lawyers.

Professional supervision – how long will this requirement remain in place?

Supervised visitation is most frequently ordered in cases where one or both parents have restricted custody based on prior conduct subjecting a child to risk of harm or neglect, often (but not always) caused by substance abuse, the perpetration of domestic violence, untreated mental illness, or threat of abduction.  Professional supervisors have been specifically trained and certified as neutrals to implement protocol during visits between children and their non-custodial parents, designed to keep at-risk children safe.  If appropriate, a professional supervisor will intervene to redirect a non-custodial parent engaged in misconduct and has the power to terminate or suspend visits in the event of non-compliance.  While not meant to be indefinite, the requirement of professional supervision will remain in place as long as necessary for the supervised parent to reestablish trust with the other parent and/or the Court, which can take weeks, months, and sometimes years, depending on the case.

In cases where a child's safety is at risk due to prior conduct by one or both parents, supervised visitation is often ordered by the court. Professional supervisors play a crucial role in implementing protocols during these visits, ensuring the safety and well-being of at-risk children. But how long will this requirement remain in place? In this article, we will explore the factors that determine the duration of professional supervision and the process of rebuilding trust for the supervised parent.

Understanding the Need for Professional Supervision

Supervised visitation is typically ordered when a parent has engaged in conduct that endangers the child's welfare. This conduct may involve substance abuse, domestic violence, untreated mental illness, or even the threat of abduction. 

The primary goal of professional supervision is to create a safe environment for the child during visits with the non-custodial parent.

The Role of Professional Supervisors

Professional supervisors are trained and certified neutrals who are specifically qualified to oversee these supervised visits. Their expertise enables them to implement protocols designed to keep the child safe. They have the authority to intervene if the non-custodial parent engages in misconduct and can suspend or terminate visits if necessary.

The Duration of Professional Supervision

While the requirement of professional supervision is not meant to be indefinite, its duration depends on various factors. The ultimate aim is for the supervised parent to rebuild trust with the other parent and/or the Court. This process takes time and can vary significantly from case to case.

The duration of professional supervision can range from weeks to months and, in some cases, even years. The timeframe depends on the severity of the previous conduct, the efforts made by the supervised parent to address the underlying issues, and the progress observed over time. The court evaluates the situation periodically to determine if the supervision requirement can be lifted.

Reestablishing Trust

Rebuilding trust is essential for the supervised parent to regain custody rights and have unsupervised visits with their child. It requires consistent demonstration of changed behavior, adherence to court orders, and often participation in counseling or rehabilitation programs. The supervised parent must show a sustained commitment to their child's well-being and safety.

Professional supervision in cases of restricted custody due to prior conduct is intended to protect at-risk children and provide a pathway for the supervised parent to rebuild trust. While the requirement is not indefinite, it remains in place until the supervised parent has demonstrated significant progress in addressing the issues that led to the restriction. 

By prioritizing the child's safety and actively working towards positive change, the supervised parent can eventually regain custody rights and enjoy unsupervised visits with their child.

Breaking Down the Jargon: here’s what these commonly used legal terms mean

Making sense of what goes on in Court or legal filings can often seem like trying to understand a foreign language.  When you add the emotion of divorce into the mix, things can get pretty messy.  Unlocking the secret language of divorce will not only help you understand what the judge and lawyers are saying, but also assist you in making informed decisions about your future and your family.  The following are commonly used terms in divorce/custody cases:

  1. Summary Dissolution: When there is a marriage of less than 5 years, no children, combined debt of less than $6,000 and combined assets of less than $47,000 (not including cars), parties are eligible to file a Joint Petition for the Summary Dissolution of their marriage.  The process is easier than a traditional dissolution, requiring forms to be submitted jointly.  Of course, you need to be on relatively good terms with your ex to do take this route, but it is an economical option if you qualify.
  1. Alimony:  Now referred to as spousal support comes in two forms, temporary and permanent.  Temporary spousal support is meant to maintain the financial status quo until either a final agreement of the parties or completion of trial.  Permanent spousal support is meant to assist the supported party in maintaining the marital lifestyle/standard of living until the supported party can become self-supporting.  Permanent spousal support is usually ordered for half the term of the marriage for marriages of 10 years or less and for marriages lasting 10 years or more, support can be ordered for the supported person’s lifetime or remarriage.  The Court considers many factors when ordering spousal support including the health, education and training of the supported spouse, duration of the marriage and even if there were proven instances of domestic violence.  When requesting spousal support, the Court has the ability to make orders retroactive to either the date the request was filed or when the Petition for Dissolution was filed. 
  1. No- Fault:  California is a no-fault jurisdiction state, which means that you do not have to prove “fault” when getting a divorce.  Issues of infidelity etc… are irrelevant as to whether or not you can get a divorce, support, and they do not affect the distribution of property.  In some states, if a party is caught being unfaithful, they can lose the right to receive spousal support or an equal share of the marital estate.
  1. Dissolution: This is the term of art used to describe a divorce.  When filing for divorce, you are filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. 
  1. Contested: Simply means that the other party is challenging what you are requesting.  In a “contested divorce” both sides cannot agree on the terms to end their marriage and need a court to decide and make an order.
  1. Discovery:  This is the term used for legal fact finding.  Each and every time a case is filed, the parties have the right to engage in discovery i.e., “discover” what assets exist as well as what evidence the other side has and plans to present in court.  Both sides also have the right to flesh out what claims the other side will make at trial and what they plan to use to prove their case.  Evidence that is not produced in discovery can be excluded at trial in the form of discovery sanctions.
  1. Deposition: A deposition is a discovery tool used to ask the other party or third-party witnesses questions under penalty of perjury before you examine them at trial.  Unless you have a judicial officer present at the deposition to rule on objections, the deponent must answer all questions asked unless their attorney instructs them not to answer.  Depositions are useful tools to gather information and know how a witness will answer at trial. Also, depositions can be videotaped which often captures the attitude and demeaner of both the deponent and their attorney which can be useful in a request for sanctions and/or to unmask a dishonest witness.

Adjourned: Simply means to conclude.  A matter can either be adjourned for the day to resume on another designated day or a matter can be adjourned after both parties have rested; thereafter the Court will issue a ruling.