In California, nearly all divorces are no-fault divorces. Some states give multiple options for fault or no-fault divorce grounds leading to different types of divorce cases. Even though divorces are all based on the same no-fault grounds, divorces still happen in many varied ways. Our Ventura divorce lawyers explain the difference between different processes and types of divorce in California.
Grounds for Divorce in California
As mentioned, all divorces in California are no-fault divorces. Many people consider the two “types” of divorce to be fault vs. no-fault divorce, using the different grounds for divorce to set the sub-types. In California, this distinction does not come into play.
Most divorces in California are based on the no-fault grounds of “irreconcilable differences.” This simply means that you and your spouse cannot stay together because of differences you have. Instead of petitioning for divorce based on fault grounds like adultery or abuse, this is the primary type of divorce.
You may also file for divorce based on permanent incapacity, but this applies only in rare circumstances. The primary reason to apply for this kind of divorce is if your spouse has an injury or mental condition that makes it impossible for them to continue to make legal decisions. This kind of divorce is the only other “grounds” for divorce aside from irreconcilable differences.
If your divorce is based on fault grounds, you nonetheless file for divorce based on irreconcilable differences. This makes it simpler to get a divorce since you do not need to prove that your spouse did anything wrong. Without this burden of proof, divorces should work more smoothly.
Types of California Divorces
Aside from “types” of divorce based on the grounds for divorce, there are also different “types” of divorce based on how contentious the divorce is. Depending on whether the other spouse agrees to the divorce – or even shows up for hearings – the divorce may be considered a different “type” of divorce.
Uncontested divorces are one of the most common types of divorces that people discuss. In an uncontested divorce, your spouse does not stand in the way of you getting a divorce. In a true uncontested divorce case, the party who files the case handles the divorce, and the other party steps aside without challenging the divorce in any way. This often means that the filing spouse will get full control over the terms of the divorce. In reality, many spouses work together to agree to terms regarding child support, child custody, and alimony amicably rather than simply stepping aside.
The opposite of an uncontested divorce is, unsurprisingly, a contested divorce. In these cases, the spouses may have disagreements, or one spouse may not think that divorce is right. In some cases, a judge may ask you to go to marriage counseling to see if the marriage can continue. The contested legal issues are often handled in court through hearings to discuss asset division, spousal support, and other issues.
Default divorces occur when one spouse files for divorce and the other does not respond. When you file for divorce, you must file additional paperwork to give your spouse notice. If your spouse has proper legal notice of the divorce proceedings and chooses not to appear in court, the court can finalize your divorce without your spouse giving any input. In many ways, this is similar to an uncontested divorce in how the actual processes work.
Summary dissolution is another type of divorce available in California. In many ways, this divorce is no different than a standard divorce, but the timing of the steps in the case often make it much simpler and quicker. In a standard divorce case, you file for divorce, then wait for the required waiting period to pass, your case is scheduled, and the court will start hearing issues. In a summary dissolution, you and your spouse agree to terms for the divorce and then file all at once. After the waiting period, the court finalizes the divorce and completes the divorce process. Only certain people qualify for summary dissolutions, so talk to an attorney about filing for divorce this way.
Termination of a Domestic Partnership
As an alternative to divorce, you can also file a petition to terminate a domestic partnership. If you are in a domestic partnership rather than a marriage, you use this process instead of divorce. The process is nearly identical to divorce, but it has a different name.
Another alternative to divorce is legal separation. In this process, you move apart from your spouse and start living as individuals again, but you leave the legal marriage intact. This can be used as a stepping stone to a later divorce, as a temporary solution, or as a final outcome, but you cannot get remarried unless you finalize the divorce first.
Call Our Ventura Divorce Lawyers for a Free Legal Consultation
If you are considering filing for divorce in Santa Barbara or elsewhere in California, talk to an experienced Ventura family lawyer about what type of divorce and what process will work best in your case. In many situations, you might be able to simplify the divorce process by cooperating with your spouse and negotiating through an attorney. Our divorce attorneys offer free legal consultations. Call (805) 643-5555 to schedule your free legal consultation.