California was among the first states to adopt “no-fault” divorce, replacing a system that insisted a marriage could not end without a showing that one party had committed some culpable act, like adultery, abandonment or, in California, cruelty. Under the old system, every proceeding was adversarial, and it was something of an open secret that the parties often perjured themselves to obtain a divorce decree. In the words of California Supreme Court Justice Stanley Mosk, writing in dissent two years after the state adopted the no-fault approach, the process was “a melancholy charade.”
The acceptance of “irreconcilable differences” as sufficient grounds to end a marriage was a great step forward, but, contrary to some expectations, it did not necessarily make the process easy, either emotionally or legally.
At Seeley Family Law Practice, our practice is devoted to family law. Our experience tells us family law has only grown more sophisticated over the years, with an increasing need for expertise in both courtroom skills and substantive legal knowledge. For all that, the outline of the process can appear straightforward.
In California, a divorce proceeding begins with a “Petition for Dissolution” of the marriage, and the marriage is ended by way of trial or by agreement of the parties. There are a number of ways to reach that conclusion, including settlement/ non-litigation, mediation, and litigation (private or public court). An experienced family law attorney will be able to help their client decide which process is best suited for his or her case. Often a case will involve litigation, settlement and mediation at different points in time in the case.