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Grounds for Divorce in California

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How Do I File for Divorce in California?

The Petition for Dissolution of Marriage is the first document that is filed with the California court. The filing spouse will file this form to request the court to terminate the marriage under certain specified grounds.

After you file all of your papers with the court and serve your spouse, your spouse will have 30 days to respond. If your spouse does not respond, the Judge may issue a default judgment in your favor granting all of your requests.

What Is there a Residency Requirement to File a Divorce in California?

Yes! Many states have a residency requirement for filing for divorce within the state and California is no exception. In California, at least one spouse must be a resident of the state for at least 6 months prior to filing for a divorce in a California court.

What Grounds May I File for Divorce in California?

California, exclusively a no-fault divorce state, has two ground for dissolution of marriage or legal separation:

  • Irreconcilable Differences: Irreconcilable differences, which have caused the irremediable, break down of the marriage. Irreconcilable differences are those grounds which are determined by the court to be substantial reasons for not continuing the marriage and which make it appear that the marriage should be dissolved.
  • Incurable Insanity: A marriage may be dissolved on the grounds of incurable insanity only upon proof, including competent medical or psychiatric testimony, that the insane spouse was at the time the petition was filed, and remains, incurably insane.

Every divorce that is filed in California must state the grounds that the divorce is to be granted. The grounds for divorce must be supported with evidence.

What Are Some Examples of Irreconcilable Differences?

Irreconcilable differences mean that there is no hope that the spouses will be able to work out their problems and save the marriage or there is a breakdown in the marriage. Also both husband and wife have to agree that there are irreconcilable differences by signing a notarized statement

What Are the Alternatives to a Divorce in California?

California is one state that recognizes legal separation as an alternative to divorce.  Legal separation divides property and provides child support where two spouses want to remain married but live separately. Legal separation is advantageous because it allows spouses to live separate lives, but keep the benefits of a marriage such as medical insurance, veteran's benefits, or social security benefits. To be legally separated under California divorce law, both parties must intend that the marriage be over.

Do I Need a Lawyer to File a Divorce in California?

You should contact a California divorce lawyer immediately. Initially they will help you draft the divorce petition, and then later assist you with the exchange of documents, settlement, and any trial issues. A good divorce attorney is vital to making sure that you get everything that you are entitled to.

Photo of page author Ki Akhbari

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 04-10-2017 03:30 PM PDT

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