Divorce Law

What are the Grounds for Divorce in California?

In California, a divorce (technically called dissolution of marriage) may be granted on one of two grounds; 1) irreconcilable differences which have caused the irremediable breakdown of the marriage or; 2) incurable insanity, according to California Family Code Section 2310.   

California is a “no-fault divorce” state, which means a divorce will be granted as long as one spouse simply states there are irreconcilable differences warranting the dissolution of the marriage. In “fault based” divorce states, specific grounds must be proven by the party seeking the dissolution of marriage.

For “irreconcilable differences” causing the irremediable breakdown of the marriage, no actual proof is required and California courts do not concern themselves with determining which spouse is at fault for the differences. As long as one spouse states there are irreconcilable differences warranting a divorce, it will be granted, even if the other spouse disagrees.

However, a divorce may only be granted on grounds of “incurable insanity” upon proof, such as reliable medical or psychiatric testimony, that the insane spouse was at the time the divorce petition was filed, and remains, incurably insane. This option is rarely used in California, but it is available.

In fault-based divorce jurisdictions, there generally are more grounds for divorce (such as fraud, cruelty, infidelity, or abandonment) and the party filing for divorce must prove the grounds exist in order to be granted a divorce. In California, the default grounds for divorce are irreconcilable differences.


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