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No one can force you to stay in an unhappy marriage

People decide to end their marriages for all kinds of reasons. Sometimes, couples just grow apart as they get older. Other times, one spouse becomes unfaithful and damages the relationship beyond the point of saving it. Couples can also experience issues related to substance abuse, gambling, video game addiction and even spousal or child abuse.

Regardless of what issues make you want to end your marriage, you have every right to walk away from an unhappy and unhealthy relationship. While laws in other countries, including Mexico, may penalize spouses who leave their family, that is not how family law works in California.

Instead, individuals have the right to end their marriage at any time via a divorce. You do not even need to be able to prove fault, such as adultery, in order to secure a divorce. You only need to affirm that the marital relationship has had a significant breakdown and is not salvageable.

You don't need approval from your spouse to file for divorce

No-fault divorce laws mean that you can file for divorce even if your spouse doesn't want to end the marriage. The state of California cannot compel you to remain in a marriage for any reason. Similarly, your spouse cannot force you to remain married. Only one spouse has to desire a divorce to initiate proceedings.

This right is particularly important for people in controlling or abusive relationships. An abusive spouse may feel a sense of ownership toward their marital partner, and their pride may preclude them from agreeing to a divorce, no matter how unhappy or unhealthy it may be. The right to file for divorce is an important one that provides people with more autonomy and personal power.

Ending your marriage does not end all your obligations

It's important to understand that getting divorced will not abruptly end your financial and legal responsibilities to your spouse and children. It will simply change the nature of those responsibilities. Instead of being informal obligations you fulfill as a parent and spouse, they will become legal obligations outlined in your court documents.

In some cases, you may have to pay child support, as well as spousal support. Other times, a spouse may have the right to seek spousal support when they file for divorce. These obligations can last for different periods of time depending on your family's circumstances. People who remain out of the workforce to raise children often have compromised earning potential and may require support while planning a future career.

If your marriage has devolved into something negative, it may be time to consider filing for divorce. Regardless of whether you can prove fault or secure the approval of your spouse, you have the right to end an unhappy marriage.

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