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California Divorce Laws

In California, divorce laws hinge on the length of state and county residency and also include waiting periods. The biggest difference among state divorce laws is the concept of “fault.” California is a "no-fault" divorce state, which means neither spouse needs to prove that the other spouse is the reason for the divorce. Instead, parties may simply cite "irreconcilable differences" or an "irreparable breakdown of the marriage" when filing for divorce. The following article outlines the basic divorce laws in California:

California Divorce Laws at a Glance

The table below lays out the key divorce requirements under California law.

Code Section Family Code Section 2300
Residency Requirements

Residency Requirement  -- Either the petitioner (person filing for divorce) or the respondent (person responding to the divorce paperwork) must have been a California resident six months and for three months in the county where the divorce action is filed. This restriction may be waived for certain same-sex couples married in California but living in a state that does not recognize same-sex divorce. Even if a California court grants a divorce in that circumstance, any orders made as part of the divorce may not be enforceable in other states. If spouses do not meet the residency requirement, they may file for legal separation instead of a divorce and then amend the paperwork after reaching the six-month or three-month threshold.

Waiting Period No divorce decree may be finalized until six months after the divorce paperwork is provided to the respondent or the respondent's first court appearance, whichever is first. If a judge believes there is a reasonable possibility of reconciliation between the spouses, he or she may halt the divorce proceedings for up to thirty days.
'No Fault' Grounds for Divorce A court must have a legal reason (known as “grounds”) to grant a divorce. In California, there are two grounds for divorce: irreconcilable differences or incurable insanity. Irreconcilable differences means the spouses cannot get along and there is no chance of them resolving their issues.
Required Fees  There are fees associated with filing the initial divorce paperwork. The exact amount of the court fees depend on the county in which the divorce case is opened. In circumstances where a petitioner cannot afford to pay the fees, a court may grant a waiver.
Other Grounds for Divorce N/A 

Related Resources for Divorce:

Get Legal Help with Your Divorce in California

Divorce is always a difficult decision. There are many factors to consider, including children, finances, and who gets to keep the family home. The goods news is that you don't have to go through it alone. If you're considering filing for divorce, speak with an experienced divorce attorney who can explain your legal rights and help guide you though the process.

You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help

Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.

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