When a marriage involves violence, abuse, or sexual assault, it is usually a clear sign that that marriage needs to end. Divorces are available in California without needing to prove any “fault grounds” or marital misconduct. However, when clear misconduct such as adultery, abuse, or sexual abuse is involved, courts are more willing to help the victim. In addition, you may be entitled to increased alimony because the abuse. If you are seeking a divorce in California based on sexual assault, talk to one of Bamieh and De Smeth’s Ventura domestic violence abuse lawyers today for a free consultation on your case. We can also help you file for protection from abuse orders and help you stay safe if you were the victim of domestic violence or sexual assault.
CA Divorce After My Spouse Sexually Assaulted Me
If your spouse sexually assaulted you, there are some important things to understand regarding how this might affect your divorce case. In California, there is only “no-fault divorce.” These no-fault grounds for divorce mean that there is no need to prove misconduct like abuse or adultery before you can get a divorce. Instead, you prove that you and your spouse have “irreconcilable differences,” and that the marriage is too broken to be repaired.
To prove there are irreconcilable differences, courts do not usually require either side to explain or cite examples of the differences. Instead, they often just accept the claim that there are irreconcilable differences, and grant divorces on those claims. This means there is no need to churn-up old memories of victimization or abuse in order to achieve a divorce. Instead, using the no-fault grounds is a simpler, less painful way to get your divorce granted.
Misconduct during the marriage can, however, be a factor in determining alimony payments. Alimony, also known as “spousal support,” is money that one spouse pays the other after the marriage ends to pay for their continued financial support. If one spouse wants a divorce, but still needs financial support until they can get back on their own two feet, alimony can provide that support.
One factor courts consider when awarding alimony is a criminal conviction against an abusive spouse. This means that if your spouse was convicted for physical or sexual abuse against you, the courts must block the abusive spouse from receiving alimony. Courts also look to other evidence of domestic violence when determining alimony. This could ultimately be used to give you a higher alimony payout or reduce any payments you are ordered to make to an abusive ex-spouse, even without a recorded conviction.
Courts may also look at any other factors they deem “just and equitable.” This could include the sexual nature of abuse, the length of the abuse, the number of incidents, and other elements that may affect the victim’s health, well-being, mental state, or ability to support themselves and their children.
Sexual Assault of a Third Party in a CA Divorce
If your spouse sexually assaulted someone else during your marriage, that is also a huge blemish on their character and fitness as a spouse. However, since courts only look at no-fault grounds for divorce, this is not likely to improve your case much. Courts should already be willing to grant you a divorce based on irreconcilable differences, even without proof of your spouse’s adultery or victimization of others.
Again, however, this kind of situation may affect alimony payments. Not only is sexually assaulting someone else during the marriage likely a crime, it is also a form of infidelity. This means that, while you are not the direct victim of the assault, you are the victim of the adultery. You may also be at-risk for victimization if your spouse has victimized others. This could ultimately entitle you to more alimony.
Alimony rules only explicitly take into account violent sex crimes committed against the other spouse. A conviction for such crimes usually works to block the victim from ever being ordered to pay their abusive spouse alimony. However, if the victim was someone else, the statute does not bar alimony. Courts may still consider these acts when determining alimony, and may equitably block the abusive spouse from being able to claim alimony after such terrible acts.
Additionally, there is no specific factor that takes adultery into account in California. However, courts may consider this under the catch-all factor as part of “[a]ny other factors the court determines are just and equitable.” The court may see an adulterous spouse who has abused others as worthy of being blocked from receiving alimony. They may also order that spouse to pay higher alimony.
Ventura, California Divorce Attorneys
A California family law attorney at The Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth may be able to help with your divorce. If you were the victim of sexual abuse or were married to someone who sexually abused others, talk to an attorney about your divorce case. This may help you prove irreconcilable differences, help protect you from paying spousal support, or help you gain higher alimony awards in your case. For a free consultation on your divorce, contact our law offices today at (805) 643-5555.