California Divorce Basics

Grounds for Divorce in California:

California is a purely “no-fault” divorce state. This means you cannot allege that your spouse’s wrongdoing was the cause of the divorce. Instead, most divorces are based on two grounds, which include;

(1) Irreconcilable differences- Irreconcilable differences are grounds which are determined by the court to be adequate reasons for the marriage to not continue and which makes it evident that the marriage should be terminated.

(2) Incurable insanity- A marriage may also be terminated by reasons of incurable insanity only upon enough proof, including competent medical or psychiatric testimony from a professional, that the spouse was at the time the petition for dissolution of marriage was filed, and actually remains, incurable insane.

Filing Party title: Petitioner

The Petitioner will initiate the Dissolution of Marriage by filing the required paperwork with the court.

A fun fact in recent news is that both Halle Berry and her now ex-husband Oliver Martinez both raced to the courthouse at the same time to file for divorce, and each wanted to be the petitioner aka the one who called it quits. At the end of the day Oliver agreed to let Halle do the honors, so she can say she left him.

California residency requirement for dissolution:

To file for divorce in California the state requires that at least one spouse must be a resident of California for at least 6 months or 180 days before filing for divorce.


A petition for dissolution of marriage summons may be filed with Superior court in the country where one of the spouses has resided for the past three months.

How property is divided at time of divorce in California:

California is a community property state. Community property means that any income earned by either spouse during marriage, and all property bought with those earnings, are considered martial property that is owned equally by each spouse or partner. Separate property, which means property owned by the spouse prior to marriage, will not be included in the division of property at the time of divorce. Separate property includes all property acquired during the marriage by gift or inheritance and all rents, issues, and profits derived from the separate property.


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