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Common Grounds for Divorce in California Understanding California divorce state law is very important before you decide to go through the divorce process. California has specific divorce guidelines, and understanding what can constitute grounds for divorce in California can be confusing if you are unfamiliar with the process. Furthermore, California divorce laws have changed over the years, and it is imperative to clarify the latest common grounds for divorce in California before filing for divorce.

It is important to note: California has a no-fault divorce law. Interesting fact: According to Wikipedia, in 1850, the only grounds for divorce in California were “impotence, extreme cruelty, desertion, neglect, habitual intemperance, fraud, adultery, or conviction of a felony.“ California became the first state to pass no-fault divorce law.” Why? A no-fault divorce makes the entire process easier and less costly for everyone involved.

So, what are some of the basic grounds for divorce in California? According to several accredited and reliable legal sources, here are the basics you need to know.

  1. Irreconcilable differences. California is a no-fault divorce state. This means that regardless of what happened or didn’t happen during a marriage, anyone can file for “irreconcilable differences.” An irreconcilable difference basically means that you and your ex had problems that just couldn’t be resolved through other means.
  1. Incurable insanity. The only other option that a petitioner has when filing for divorce in the state of California, other than claiming there are “irreconcilable differences”, is claiming that the spouse is certifiably insane and cannot be cured. A bout of anxiety, depression, or other mental illness probably won’t cut it. Proving incurable insanity can be very difficult, and will require testimony by certified experts.

Renowned online legal source, California Divorce Basics, states that the petitioner may attempt to file on this method, but problems can occur because when “filing for divorce based on incurable insanity, a judge will only grant a divorce on these grounds if you show sufficient proof.” So, in other words, it’s pretty difficult to file for divorce for a reason other than “irreconcilable differences.” Proving someone is insane can be fairly difficult.

If a divorce is granted due to “incurable insanity”, it does not free the petitioner from certain legal obligations. Rather, according to legal online source Goldberg Jones, “ a divorce granted on the grounds of incurable insanity will not absolve the petitioning spouse from potential spousal support obligations.” In other words, just because your spouse is “certifiably insane” doesn’t mean that the petitioning party won’t have to provide spousal support to that person, if necessary.

Why so easy to get a divorce? Getting a divorce can be complicated when large sums of money, looming custody battles, or complicated prenuptial agreements are in play. However, the actual grounds for filing for a divorce are quite simple. One must either say that the differences between the two parties are beyond being resolved by any other means but divorce, or one of the two people in the marriage is mentally ill. This allows divorce to be easier for the petitioner to file in the state of California.

Divorce used to be more difficult for many reasons. Due to societal expectations, which probably influenced legal procedures, it was frowned upon to get a divorce. One did not just file for divorce, because of fighting or a change in life goals. The reasons for moving to “no-fault divorces” were aligned with good intentions. The Huffington Post states that, “some in intolerable circumstances couldn’t get (a divorce) because the peculiar sort of pain they were in did not fall into a statutory category.”

In other words, if your spouse were giving you the silent treatment and emotionally abusing you, it would be hard to get a divorce prior to the 1970’s no-fault divorces. On the other hand, because of no-fault divorces nowadays, a spouse can cheat on her husband, and the husband is still required to give her half of everything he has (if there was no pre-nuptial agreement), because no reason must be given to prove that the other person deserves to be left.

Educate yourself before moving forward. There are certainly arguments to be made on both sides about California state divorce laws and whether or not they are fair or need adjusting. However, they are part of the current legal procedures for divorce in California, and the more educated you are on the basic procedures, the easier finalizing your divorce will be.


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