Grounds for Divorce in California

The state of California was the first to adopt the concept of ‘No-Fault Divorce’.  According to Ann.Cal.Fam.Code. § 2310 and Ann.Cal.Fam.Code. § 2312, one can file for legal separation or divorce based on:

  • Irreconcilable decisions that have completely wrecked the marriage
  • Legal Inability to make decisions where proof is needed to show that the spouse at the time of filing is incapable of making decisions. The proof can be psychiatric or medical testimony.

Even though fault is not entirely relevant, in cases where a spouse is abusive, violent, does not take care of the family, or has wasted community funds, the judge can consider such facts while awarding alimony and division of property.

The state of California allows a married person who wants to end a marriage to do so, even if their partner wants otherwise.

Divorce waiting period

Even though various factors affect the duration of the waiting period, California has a mandatory waiting period. A California waits until six months are over after filing the divorce petition to issue a decree. Regardless of whether the dissolution is uncontested or not, the wait is still the same.

Spousal support in California

Alimony (spousal support) is financial support paid to either of the party as ordered by the judge to allow them to be self-supporting. The alimony is located at a reasonable time frame which may be shorter or longer depending on the marriage duration and other factors.

Sections Cal. Fam. Code §§ 4320(l); 4336(b), Cal. Fam. Code § 4320(l), Cal. Fam. Code § 4320(a)-(k), (n) and Cal. Fam. Code §§ 4320(m); 4324.5(a)(1); 4325 highlights the factors surrounding spousal support. Some of them but not limited to include:

  • Earning capacity of both parties
  • Amount contributed towards a spouse’s education, training, or career position
  • Age and health status of the spouse
  • Marriage duration
  • The ability of the spouse to pay alimony depending on their earnings, assets, living standards, and earned /unearned income
  • Immediate and specific tax consequences
  • Hardships facing the partners
  • Assets and obligations of the spouses including non-marital properties
  • Ability to work without interfering with the children’s interests in your custody
  • Documents issued on domestic violence (between the parties or against the child by either party)

In cases where the person requesting alimony has been criminally convicted for violent sexual felony against their spouse, misdemeanor domestic violence, or felony domestic violence, such factors affect whether the alimony will be awarded or not.

If the person asking for spousal support is the victim of a violent sexual felony or felony domestic violence, they should provide the judge with documented evidence according to the law.  Given the proof, the judge can decide whether to follow the given guidelines or not and order the abusive partner to pay for the alimony. The laws on the abuse and award of spousal support in a divorce are highlighted under sections:

  • Fam.Code § 4325(a)(1), (a)(2)
  • Fam.Code § 4325(b)
  • Fam.Code § 4325(e)(1)
  • Fam.Code § 4324.5(a)
  • Fam.Code § 4324.5(b); Cal.Penal.Code § 667.5(c)(3),(4),(5),(11),(18)
  • Fam.Code § 4324
  • Fam.Code § 4324.5(c)

Child Custody and support

Even after the divorce, California courts require the child to be in frequent contact with both parents. Joint custody is welcome in the courts unless there is no agreement and a mediation session is required. If the spouses can agree on the best parenting method and it suits the children’s interests, then the California courts approve it.

The amount that goes to child support depends on the primary income of each party, the time they spend with their children, and other resources.

Matters on divorce can be complicated. The California courts however make it easy by providing resources on matters of divorce. On the California Court website, you can easily find guidelines and laws regarding summary dissolution, spousal support, annulment, and links for the required court forms.