California the no fault divorce state.

Circumstances occur in every day life where both parties in a marriage can agree that it is in the best interest to end the marriage.  There are of course people who advocate that a couple should try and make it work for the sake of their children.  In cases where marriage counseling is appropriate and people find that they can work out their differences that may be an option.

 In other cases divorce is the only option for the health and sanity  of one or both parties involved.

There is of course the “belief” in certain circles that people have to substantiate the decision for a divorce with outrageous claims and allegations in order to obtain an advantage in a custody proceeding. The belief that someone can attempt an amicable divorce in an abusive situation is a fallacy as the abusive parent cannot tolerate the idea or concept that someone actually wants to leave them.

However, most states including California have a no fault divorce policy. It is up to either party once the divorce petition has been filed to end the marriage by bringing the matter before the court either in the appropriate motion or a trial.

The legal process to separate the dissolution from all remaining issues in the case is called bifurcation and it is consistent with the legislative policy of the Family code to allow a quick dissolution of Marriage. The Family Law act, as augmented and interpreted by the judicial council  rule, authorizes a trial court, not only to bifurcate the trial, but to enter a separate judgment of dissolution before other issues have been litigated. (In Re Marriage of Fink (1976) 54 Cal. App. 3D 527). Consistent with the legislative policy favoring no-fault dissolution of marriage the moving party needs only slight evidence of bifurcation, (Gionis vs. Superior Court, (1988), 202 Cal. App. 3D, 786, 790).   

     In Gionis v. Superior Court(1988) 202 Cal. App. 3d 786, 788-790, the California Court of Appeal held that a request for bifurcation does not have to be justified by a compelling showing of need, and that on the contrary a spouse opposing bifurcation must present compelling reasons for denial. Reviewing California case law, the court found that bifurcation was a favored procedure because it implemented the policy underlying no-fault divorce. The court noted that the state’s high court had endorsed the concept of bifurcation in these terms:

“Severance of a personal relationship which the law has found to be unworkable and, as a result, injurious to the public welfare is not dependent upon final settlement of property disputes. Society will be little concerned if the parties engage in property litigation of however long duration; it will be much concerned if two people are forced to remain legally bound to one another when this status can do nothing but engender additional bitterness and unhappiness.” Hull v. Superior Court (1960) 54 Cal. 2d 139, 147.  

Normally certain procedural requirements have to be followed including the serving of preliminary declaration of disclosures. However, the trial court has the broad authority pursuant to  CA family code §  2010 to enter a dissolution judgment on the spot.  A 4th district court of appeal decision has also found that the failure to require service of preliminary declaration of disclosure is not jurisdictional upon the dissolution judgment, In re Marriage of McLaughlin (2000) 82 Cal.App.4th 327, 336.


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