What are the Grounds for a California Divorce

What are the Grounds for a California Divorce?

There can be several reasons for a divorce. Sometimes a marriage will end because of a traumatic event such as infidelity or physical abuse. Other times, multiple issues may contribute to the relationship’s end. Marriages usually end for very personal and specific reasons. However, most causes will not be considered “grounds” for a California divorce. If you are considering filing for divorce in California, you need to know: What are the grounds for a California divorce?

What is a Ground for Divorce?

A ground is a legally permissible basis that a party can state (plead) to establish their right to file in court and make certain requests. In a California divorce, only specific grounds are allowed under the law. Therefore, although a marriage may be ending for a certain reason, not every one of these can be named as an official divorce ground.

What are the California Divorce Grounds?

California is a no-fault divorce state meaning that the court will not grant a divorce based on one party being to blame for the marriage ending.

California law provides two possible grounds for divorce:

  • Irreconcilable differences, which have caused the irremediable breakdown of the marriage, and
  • Permanent legal incapacity to make decisions.

What are Irreconcilable Differences?

Most parties cite the “irreconcilable differences” ground as a basis for their divorce. This general term is meant to refer to a couple not being able to get along to the point that the marriage is no longer tenable and cannot be fixed.

Irreconcilable differences can encompass everything from being incompatible to adultery, substance abuse, and domestic violence. If one party can establish that the marriage is no longer functional and beyond repair, the ground will be met, and the divorce can be granted.

What is “Permanent legal incapacity to Make Decisions?”

A party may also plead that their marriage is not working because their partner has lost their “permanent legal capacity to make decisions.” When someone cites this ground for a California divorce, it’s usually because their spouse has suffered a traumatic injury or serious physical and psychological illness that has impaired their independent decision-making authority. Establishing incapacity to make decisions generally requires the party to provide medical evidence to prove their partner’s impairment.

What About Adultery and Abuse?

When a marriage is ending because of a disturbing event such as adultery or abuse, it would seem like these would be legal divorce grounds. However, the only “grounds” for divorce are those provided by California law. That does not mean the court will ignore adultery or abuse, however. Evidence of adultery may be relevant with respect to child custody. If a spouse’s adulterous conduct harmed their kids, the court could consider evidence of this when making legal and physical custody decisions. Abuse can also be considered for custodial purposes and in determining the appropriateness and amount of spousal maintenance (alimony).

Marital relationships are complex and often end for a variety of reasons. If you are considering divorce or have been served with a case, you should discuss your circumstances with an experienced California divorce attorney. Your divorce lawyer can help you evaluate your situation and determine the best way to proceed with your case.

Contact an Experienced California Divorce Attorney

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger are experienced California divorce attorneys who can help you during your divorce. We assist clients along California’s Northern to Southern Coast, including San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Marin, San Jose, Gold River, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, and surrounding communities. Call us at 415-293-8314 to schedule a private appointment or visit our website.



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