California is a “no fault” divorce state. That means that a California judge will not listen to arguments about the fact that your ex spouse had extra marital affairs. In fact, you could be sanctioned and ordered to pay a fine for bringing that issue up in a California divorce proceeding.
But does that mean that your spouses conduct is without consequences? Or that you are left holding the bag and without a remedy?
The answer is a resounding NO! There is always more than one way to skin a cat, or, in this context, to get revenge. Remember, California is a community property state. Therefore, while a spouses infidelity may not be an issue in a California divorce proceeding, the way s/he spends his or her money ALWAYS is! Particularly if s/he squanders the assets of the marital estate, or makes a GIFT of community funds without the consent of the other spouse.
Since, California is a community property state, judges are supposed to equally divide the assets and debts of the community between the spouses when they divorce. However, like everything else, there are exceptions to that general rule.
The exception that is most on point here, is that neither spouse can make a GIFT of the community property without the consent of the other. Here are two familiar examples.
Arnold and Maria
I am sure that most of you remember the split of of former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and his famous wife Maria Shriver, just a few years ago. Maria, as well as the rest of us, learned that Arnold fathered a child with another women while he and Maria were married and living together. This “love child” was born around the same time that their youngest son Patrick was born.
To add salt to the wounds, Arnold purchased a home for his former mistress and their love child in Bakersfield. The approximate cost of the home was $268,000.00. As stated above, Maria could not litigate or bring up the issue of Arnold’s infidelity during the divorce proceedings. If she had attempted to do that, she could have been sanctioned or fined.
However, if Maria could prove that the Bakersfield home was purchased with community funds, such as Arnold’s wages or assets acquired during marriage, and that she did not have knowledge of this purchase, then she could have used that as evidence that Arnold had made a gift of their community property without her consent. Thus, she may have been able to have the purchase of the Bakersfield home set aside. This, in turn, could have also be grounds for an unequal division of the community property.
As a caveat, I don’t know what finally happened between Maria and Arnold. If they wound up getting back together, or if they remained apart. Reference to their situation was merely used an example of the remedies Maria had available to her, had she chosen to use them.
Donald and Shelley
A more recent example, is the situation of Donald Sterling, the former owner of the Clippers, and his now famous ex mistress V Stiviano. V Stiviano lived in a condo in LA that was worth $1 million dollars. She drove a nice car. She wore expensive jewelry. She enjoyed many comforts that she did not earn. Donald Sterling footed the bill for these items so that his mistress, V Stiviano, could live in luxury.
As stated above, the moral of the story is that No Fault does NOT mean No Revenge. While a beleaguered spouse cannot mention the indiscretions or affairs of his or her former spouse, s/he can always mention the manner in which the former spouse spent their money. Remember, every monetary transaction, whether through a bank account or credit card, always leaves an electronic trail. Therefore, if a scorned spouse can prove that an ex used community property earnings or assets to buy lavish gifts for a lover, s/he can have the transaction set aside. This may also be grounds for an unequal division of the community assets when the parties divorce.