Blowback Didn't Help Politically, Nor in a California Divorce

Todd Courser is a freshman Michigan state house representative. He is married and the father of four children. Cindy Gamrat is also a freshman Michigan state house representative. She, too, is married and has children. Both Courser and Gamrat were newly elected in 2014 as members of the “tea party” caucus of the Republican party.

The “tea party” caucus is known for its conservative stances on political issues of law and order, government budgeting and taxation, religious beliefs (mostly Christian), and family values. The caucus’s family values beliefs include the sanctity of marriage and the sins of same-sex marriage and/or adultery.

According to the Detroit News, when an alleged extra-marital affair between Courser and Gamrat was about to become public, Courser planned to cover it up the by planting a fake sex-scandal story. In the fake sex-scandal story, Courser’s then-aide Ben Graham was to send an anonymous mass e-mail to Republicans informing them that Courser had paid a man for sex behind a Lansing, Michigan night club; say Courser was a bi-sexual porn-addicted deviant; and that Gamrat was a tramp because she helped Courser to cover-up his behavior. It was hoped the e-mail would be so outrageous it would minimize any “blowback” from the actual affair between Courser and Gamrat. Graham refused to send the e-mail and was later fired. However, Graham did record the entire conversation between him and Courser.

Graham provided the recording to the Detroit News after being fired, and the newspaper published the story including Courser’s statement, “…I need to, if possible, inoculate the herd against gutter politics that are coming.” The paper also stated that Gamrat agreed with Courser’s plan.

Notwithstanding the veracity of the story, Courser and Gamrat would be guilty of committing adultery, and in some states adultery is grounds for divorce. In fact, not only would adultery be grounds for divorce in many states, but it would also be punishable against the offending party by mandatory payments of alimony to the innocent party (i.e., the adulterer’s spouse).

However, California is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that grounds for divorce can only be obtained on the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. The specific acts that caused the breakdown, whether from acts of indifference to hatred, cannot be the grounds for the divorce itself. Nor can a specific act or fault be used as a means of obtaining alimony (or as it’s known in California, “spousal support”). Spousal support is solely based on the needs of one spouse and the ability to provide it by the other spouse.

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