You may think that there are numerous grounds for divorce – perhaps that each case will have its own specific grounds, but actually, California law has simplified the divorce process by establishing only two legal grounds for divorce: irreconcilable differences and permanent legal incapacity to make decisions. These two grounds can encompass a variety of specific causes. For example, one spouse may decide to end the marriage on account of adultery, but that is not considered a legal grounds for divorce. The divorce lawyer will want to know this detail, but as far as the court is concerned, the legal reason for the dissolution of the marriage is irreconcilable differences. The marriage must be shown to be irredeemable, regardless of the specific cause. 

What Are the General Requirements for a Divorce in CA?

Whatever the specific circumstances surrounding a particular divorce case, California recognizes only the two grounds mentioned above. The particulars of the case will fall under either one of these. The concepts of irreconcilable differences and permanent legal incapacity to make decisions are deliberately vague. Lawyers can use either of them to build their case as the situation dictates. This is referred to as “no-fault” divorce. 

Consider adultery, for example, one of the most common reasons cited for a couple to file for divorce. In other states, this is still recognized as legal grounds for divorce in its own right, but not in California. Here, a case of adultery would, most likely, lead to a marriage being dissolved on the basis of irreconcilable differences.  

What is a Wife Entitled to in a Divorce in California?

While there are no solid rules to determine spousal support, alimony, or the precise division of property in California, there are several basic guidelines that have mostly been determined by precedent. A wife may be entitled to 50% of the marital assets and 40% of her spouse’s income in various forms. However, this is not written in stone and the court does not approach alimony or spousal support with the aim of providing a fixed amount to one spouse. The goal is to ensure that the lesser-earning spouse can maintain her/ his standard of living. Gender does not actually matter, either. If the wife is the higher-earning spouse, the husband could be awarded a generous spousal support arrangement.

In the end, the court seeks an order that is “just and equitable” for both parties. While in the past, the court might have awarded lifetime spousal support, the guidelines have changed in recent years. The court now looks at spousal support to last only as long as required for the supported party to become self-sufficient:

“As recognized by our Supreme Court, the public policy of this state has progressed from one which entitled some women to lifelong alimony as a condition of the marital contract of support, to one that entitles either spouse to post-dissolution support for only so long as is necessary to become self-supporting.”

Do You Need a Reason to Get Divorced in California?

California is a no-fault divorce state, which means that no specific reason actually needs to be cited when filing for divorce. You do not have to prove that your spouse did anything wrong and you can get a divorce, even if the other spouse does not want one.

What is the Number One Reason for Divorce in California?

While there are many reasons that drive people to file for divorce, there are always a number of common factors that lead to the dissolution of marriages. The most common ones in California, and most likely elsewhere as well are:

  • Financial disagreements
  • Infidelity
  • Time management issues, i.e. work schedules leading to a lack of quality time between the two spouses, which ultimately leads to estrangement.
  • Intimacy problems
  • Interference from relatives, especially parents.

Westover Law is a leading firm of family law attorneys in southern California. Our attorneys are here to assist with all family law matters in California. If you are planning to get divorced and want to know more about grounds for divorce in California, speak to a Certified Family Law Specialist at Westover Law.