Ashley Madison and CA Divorce

Life is short.  Have an affair.  (Then get served with divorce papers).

Ah, the Digital Age.  Where you can shop for groceries, catch up with your sister who lives out of state, and have an affair, all without leaving the comfort of your own couch.

“Life is short.  Have an affair” is the catch phrase for the popular hook-up site, Ashley Madison.  My response to that mentality as a family law attorney is, “Life is short.  Get a divorce.”  If you recently found your partner’s name listed as a member of Ashley Madison, and you were not aware you had an “open relationship,” you might be reading this blog with the intention of filing for divorce and making your spouse’s infidelity an issue.

While I support your decision to leave the cheater, unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view), California is a “no fault” state.  This means the courts are not interested in the fact your spouse cheated on you through an online affair website, and would find the Ashley Madison infidelity irrelevant.  “No-fault” divorce was popularized in the United States after California passed the Family Law Act of 1969, which was signed into law by Governor Ronald Reagan (who himself had been divorced-and-remarried) and became effective January 1, 1970.

Grounds for divorce in California are obtained under either 1) incurable insanity, or 2) irreconcilable differences (aka, “everything else”).  Irreconcilable differences is purposefully broad and is offered as a general reason for the breakdown of the marital relationship.  “Specific acts of misconduct” is improper to introduce and inadmissible in court.

So keep this in mind when you are preparing your Petition for Dissolution paperwork.  While you may feel like your spouse should enter the courtroom wearing a giant, scarlet letter “A” around their neck, in California, courts may not look to “fault” in dissolving your marriage, dividing your property, or ordering support.