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What Are the Grounds for Divorce in California?

Posted By Edwin Castellanos || 15-Jul-2013

As a divorce attorney, one of the questions I am frequently asked is what are the grounds for divorce (or marital dissolution) in California? In California, when we talk about obtaining a judgment of marital dissolution we’re really talking about getting a divorce. Getting a divorce in California is commonly referred to by divorce lawyers and family law judges as obtaining a judgment of marital dissolution (or in the context of legal separation you would obtain a judgment of legal separation without dissolving your marital status/relationship).

Historically, before 1969, there were “fault” based grounds available to obtain a divorce in California. For example, before the California legislature enacted the Family Law Act in 1969, a spouse could get a divorce by proving the other spouse was guilty of adultery, extreme cruelty (resulting in grievous bodily injury or grievous mental suffering), willful desertion, willful neglect, or habitual intemperance, or if the other spouse was convicted of a felony, or was incurably insane. Historically, the emphasis on proving “fault” to get a divorce in California added to the bitterness between the spouses and sometimes even motivated spouses to divorce. This was especially true because a trial court had discretion, by statute, to award a so called “innocent” spouse with more than half of the community property from the martial estate if it was proven that the divorce was based on adultery, extreme cruelty, or incurable insanity.

Thankfully, California has done away with the “fault” based concept of divorce in California. Today, a divorce lawyer preparing your divorce petition for dissolution of marriage will generally use one of the two grounds available for getting a divorce or a judgment for marital dissolution in California: (1) irreconcilable differences or (2)incurable insanity.

Getting a divorce based on irreconcilable differences is the more common of the two grounds for marital dissolution in California. Divorce Lawyers will often make reference to California Family Code Section 2310, which specifically refers to obtaining a divorce or judgment of marital dissolution on the grounds that irreconcilable differences exist that have caused the “irremediable breakdown of the marriage.”

In contrast, a divorce based on incurable insanity is the second ground, but requires proof that the insane spouse was incurably insane at the time of the filing of the divorce petition and remains incurably insane. Getting a divorce based on the ground of incurable insanity can be found in California’s Family Code Section 2312.

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You can read more about the divorce process in Los Angeles and basic divorce procedures on our website. However, if you are in need of legal representation with a divorce, child custody, child support, or other family law matter in Los Angeles, request a FREE initial consultation with a Los Angeles divorce lawyer from Castellanos & Associates, APLC today at (323) 655-2105.

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Categories: Divorce

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