Divorce is a legal process that has been left up to each individual state to determine
What requirements they will put in place for people to get divorced within that particular state. If you have made the difficult decision to get divorced, you may be wondering what requirements you will be asked to meet in California. In California, in order to file for divorce you must first meet certain residency requirements. If you successfully meet those requirements or allow enough time to pass to meet those requirements, you may formally request a divorce under California’s “no-fault” divorce laws.
Like most states, California requires you to have lived here for a certain period of time before you can ask California courts to grant your request for a divorce. California law requires those seeking to ask the court for a divorce to have lived in California for at least six months prior to filing for a divorce. In addition, California law requires you to have lived in the county you plan on filing for divorce in for at least three months prior to filing for divorce. In cases where you and your spouse live in different counties, perhaps due to legal separation or other circumstances, you may file for divorce in the county in which either of the spouses lives provided that they have lived in that county for at least three months prior to filing for divorce.
If you are initially unable to meet these residency requirements, you could request a legal separation. A legal separation does not require you to meet the minimum residency requirements of a divorce. If you choose this particular path, you could petition the court to make the legal separation a divorce once enough time has gone by for you to meet the residency requirements for a California divorce.
Grounds for Divorce
As mentioned above, California is a “no-fault” divorce state. This means that in a no-fault divorce state, like California, the person filing for divorce doesn’t need to prove any fault on their spouse’s behalf leading up to the request for a divorce. You simply have to meet one of the two grounds for divorce in California, as opposed to a “fault” divorce where you may have to prove specific things – like an affair or the inability to have children – in order to successfully petition for that divorce. California is a completely no-fault divorce state and does not recognize fault divorces.
In California, once you have met the residency requirements you may request a divorce based on either of the following conditions:
- The breakdown of your marriage due to irreconcilable differences; or
- Permanent legal incapacity to make decisions.
California law loosely defines irreconcilable differences as those which are substantial enough to cause a person to choose to not continue the marriage and that the marriage should be dissolved. This loose definition allows people to chose to divorce based on the unique circumstances of their individual relationships. To demonstrate lack of legal capacity to make decisions, a person must establish that the spouse lacked this capacity at the time the petition was filed and continues to lack such capacity. To do so, you may provide medical or psychiatric testimony along with other appropriate evidence that demonstrates the lack of legal capacity to make decisions.
Questions About Divorce
The divorce process has been left up to individual states to establish their own requirements for divorce. The divorce process can be confusing and stressful, not to mention emotionally draining. While some of the laws governing the basics of divorce may seem very straightforward, they are not the only laws that come into play during the divorce process. Many different aspects of California family law must be addressed during the divorce process, and a family law attorney with experience handling California divorce proceedings can work with you to address them throughout the divorce process. Mistakes in divorce proceedings can be costly, and may have significant consequences. If you are contemplating divorce or have questions about the procedure contact JWB Family Law to schedule a consultation.