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California Divorce Laws

At some point two people may decide that they can no longer be together. Just as states have regulations on the marriage process, they also have legal requirements for divorce that define the procedures a person must go through in order to get divorced. All states allow "no-fault" divorces, which means that neither spouse needs to prove that the other spouse is the reason for the divorce. Parties may simply cite "irreconcilable differences" or an "irreparable breakdown of the marriage" when filing for divorce.

The following article provides a brief overview of California divorce laws.

California Divorce Laws at a Glance

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

Code Section

Family Code § 2300 of the California Code

Residency Requirements

Either the petitioner (person filing for divorce) or the respondent (the person responding to the divorce paperwork) must have been a California resident for six months and for three months in the county where the divorce action is filed.

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.

'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, which have caused the irremediable breakdown of the marriage; or permanent legal incapacity to make decisions.

Required Fees

There are fees associated with filing the initial divorce paperwork. The exact amount of the court fees depends 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


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 good 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 through the process.

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Can I Solve This on My Own or Do I Need an Attorney?

  • Divorces are tough and a lawyer can seek the best outcome
  • A lawyer can help protect your children's interests
  • Divorce lawyers can secure alimony, visitation rights, and property division

Get tailored divorce advice and ask a lawyer questions. Many attorneys offer free consultations.


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