California is a no-fault state when it comes to divorce. Because of this, criminal convictions do not generally play a role in divorce proceedings. However, when the criminal charge was for domestic violence or a violent sexual felony against your spouse, support could be denied.
These charges are considered to be relevant to divorce proceedings. A person convicted of these crimes could find that they play a role in spousal support, as well as other areas of their divorce.
What Is a No-Fault Divorce?
All 50 U.S. states now have no-fault divorce laws on the books. These laws allow people to end their marriages without proving that their partner has wronged them in a manner deemed acceptable as a cause for divorce.
Prior to these laws, marriages could only be dissolved if one spouse was able to prove that their partner had violated their marriage in a certain way, such as through adultery. Now, either partner can choose to file for divorce simply because the marriage is not working and they are unhappy.
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Exceptions to the No-Fault Divorce Rule
No-fault divorce laws go beyond the reason for wanting to initiate the divorce and affect other aspects of divorces, including spousal support. When fault was a determining factor in divorce proceedings, many factors excluded the at-fault party from receiving various benefits.
However, by eliminating fault from the equation, these factors were no longer considered when dividing assets. While this remains the case in most situations, there are exceptions to these rules. A person convicted of domestic violence or a violent sexual felony against their spouse or either partner’s child is not entitled to receive spousal support.
Additionally, attempted murder of your spouse also bars you from receiving spousal support. These exceptions exist because the law views providing spousal support to an abuser as essentially funding your own abuse.
The Time Frame for a Conviction to Affect Your Case
When looking at prior convictions for domestic abuse or a violent sexual penalty, the court generally goes back five years. If you were convicted in this time period, you will be barred from recovering spousal support.
For domestic abuse convictions, you may be able to fight the ruling of no spousal support. However, to do so, you typically have to prove that your spouse also has a history of domestic abuse against you.
As for violent sexual felonies, the court will not hear any arguments for spousal support from the partner convicted of the crime. They will be barred from receiving support without any hope of rebuttal.
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Other Crimes Could Also Affect Your Case
While these are the only crimes specifically mentioned regarding spousal support and no-fault exceptions in California, other crimes may play a role. The court has the discretion to take any crime committed by one spouse against another into consideration when determining spousal support.
Any conviction for a crime against your spouse could affect multiple aspects of a divorce. If you are facing charges for a crime against your spouse, it is critical that you speak with a criminal defense lawyer. An experienced attorney will inform you of all of the potential consequences you may face if convicted.
Most people only think about the immediate criminal penalties when considering a plea bargain. Without professional legal advice, these people may agree to a deal they don’t fully understand. A conviction for any crime can affect several areas of your life. It is critical to consider all of the potential repercussions before making any deal.
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