27 May Could Another Relationship Complicate a Divorce in California?
Divorce can be a messy business. Couples can seek a divorce for all sorts of reasons. Infidelity and an inability to maintain a meaningful relationship are the most common. Divorce is relatively straightforward in California as long as there are no children involved and both partners are relatively independent financially. Divorce may even be quite amicable.
Divorce gets much more complicated when there are joint children to think about and the relationship has endured long enough for property and assets to be divided up. One reason for a divorce is that one or the other partner has developed a relationship with someone else. Does this make divorce any more difficult?
California is a no-fault divorce state
A family court in California does not take any notice of a breakdown in a marriage because of infidelity or in fact any other reason as far as divorce is concerned, but may take this into consideration when considering child custody arrangements. California is a no-fault state for divorce. Divorce applications are granted for two basic reasons: one or the other of the spouses has become incurably insane and / or the marriage has broken down irretrievably.
The reason why the marriage has broken down irretrievably is basically of no concern to the court. In fact, a couple can agree to divorce together and can be granted a divorce without an appearance in court, regardless of the reason why they are divorcing.
Spousal support, or alimony, as it is also known, is determined according to whoever in the marriage needs financial assistance after divorce. In general, the fact that you are having another relationship outside of the marriage is unlikely to change the court’s decision about spousal support. However, if you are the partner who would expect to receive spousal support because you have custody of the children or are unable to get a job, the fact that you marry later after the divorce from your first spouse may affect spousal support further down the track.
Deciding who looks after the joint children of a marriage and who has visitation rights can be a difficult job at the best of times and it is here where having another relationship may complicate who is eligible to retain custody of the children.
The family court in California makes a decision about child custody after a divorce in the best interests of the children. There are several criteria that are carefully examined before a decision is made. If one of the two people in a marriage has developed another relationship then it is highly likely that this will be taken into consideration.
The court will want to know how your developing relationship will affect your ability to care for your children. For example, if the relationship is in its early phases will you be able to demonstrate your affection for your children as much as in the past? What is the character of your new partner? Does the partner have a criminal record or a past history of child abuse or family violence? Will the fact that your new partner is living with you have any effect on the children’s emotional state? For example, if you and your new partner spend time criticizing your ex-spouse in front of your children, this could affect their feelings in a negative way.
There is no hard and fast answer to deciding child custody arrangements and one way or another it is likely to be a disappointment to one or the other spouse. The fact that you and your spouse were unable to come to an amicable agreement about how your joint children should be looked after is the reason that you decided to use the family court to make a decision for you.
If you are in a relationship with someone else before a divorce has been granted and are worried about how it will affect your divorce and any spousal support and child custody arrangements the best solution is to arrange to talk to an experienced and sympathetic family law attorney. If you live in or around Orange County in California, phone 562-634-1115 to arrange a consultation with a family law attorney at the Law Offices of Damian Nolan.