What are the Grounds for Divorce in California?

If you are contemplating divorce, you’re not alone. Unfortunately, almost half of all marriages end in divorce. And while you may not have expected your marriage to take this route, it’s essential to know how your marriage can be legally ended in California.

The grounds for a divorce is the legal reason your marriage should end. Keep reading to learn some of the common grounds for divorce in California.

What is a No-Fault Divorce?

Divorces can be “fault” or “no-fault,” but California uses the no-fault approach to divorce, meaning that the blame doesn’t have to be put on either party. Instead, the couple can simply file a petition with the court basing the divorce on irreconcilable differences. As a no-fault state, the courts can’t factor in marital fault when dividing marital property, deciding custody, or awarding child support or alimony.

Being a no-fault divorce state means that one spouse can file for divorce and doesn’t have to prove what the other did, causing the marriage to end. Either spouse can decide that they want a divorce, and the other spouse can’t do anything to stop the proceedings. Should they choose not to participate, the court can still finalize the divorce by granting a default judgment.

Grounds for Divorce

Many states allow a spouse to give a reason for the divorce, such as abandonment or adultery. However, California has simplified the divorce process by establishing two legal grounds for divorce, irreconcilable differences and permanent legal incapacity to make decisions.

Irreconcilable Differences

Citing Irreconcilable differences as the grounds for ending your marriage means that the fault doesn’t lie with one person or for a specific reason. Instead, it means the marriage is no longer working and cannot be repaired, or the couple chooses not to try to fix it.

Examples of irreconcilable differences include:

  • Disagreements over finances
  • Differing beliefs in parenting, including how to raise and/or discipline the children
  • Conflicts with in-laws or extended family
  • Lack of communication leads to problem-solving or conflict-resolution issues

Permanent Legal Incapacity

Legal incapacity, also referred to as incurable insanity, is the second ground for divorce in California. Legal incapacity could result from an illness, psychological disorder, or traumatic injury. The court must determine that the incapacity is permanent based on the information provided by medical testimony.

One must provide testimony from a doctor or provide other medical documentation proving:

  1. When you filed for divorce, your spouse was incurably insane.
  2. Medical professionals must testify that they expect your spouse to be unable to make decisions at any time in the near future.

It’s more challenging to obtain a divorce this way as there is a high burden of proof. Filing for divorce based on permanent legal incapacity will extend the time you spend in court and the total cost of your divorce. Conversely, a no-fault divorce requires no proof leading to a faster divorce process.

Annulling the Marriage

Under certain circumstances, the state of California also recognizes annulment. In an annulment, the court will rule that the marriage didn’t even happen. Grounds for an annulment include:

  • Incest or polygamy
  • A spouse was coerced or forced into the marriage
  • A spouse is younger than the age of consent
  • A spouse was not of sound mind at the time of the nuptials
  • The marriage couldn’t be consummated due to the physical incapacity of a spouse
  • Fraud

Turn to Kern County’s Award-Winning Family Law Firm

Keep in mind that residency requirements exist to file for divorce in California. At least one party must be a resident of the state for at least six months and a resident of the county where the divorce is being filed for at least three months. If you need help filing a divorce, or if you have any other questions enlisting the services of an experienced family law attorney is essential.

At Azemika & Azemika, we specialize in family law, so you can have peace of mind knowing that you have a knowledgeable, experienced team fighting for and protecting you and your family during the divorce process. We understand that you are going through an emotional, difficult time, and we will put our combined 56 years of experience to work for you.
Do you want an award-winning legal team on your side? Contact us today for a consultation.

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