Grounds for Divorce in California

Each state has its own set of laws concerning legal “grounds,” or reasons, for divorce. Determining the grounds for your divorce in your state is one of the first and most important steps of the divorce process. If you are a resident of Ventura County or Santa Barbara County, you will need to familiarize yourself with the basics of California divorce grounds before you initiate legal proceedings. Our family law attorneys have compiled this brief overview of reasons for divorcing, with a special focus on adultery, in an effort to help more Californians understand the grounds for divorce and how they impact the legal process.

If you are considering getting divorced, filing for legal separation, or seeking an annulment, our divorce attorneys in California may be able to help. Serving Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties, our legal team brings decades of experience to the negotiating table, enabling us to aggressively protect your rights to custody, real property, alimony, and other key aspects of the divorce process.
To learn more about how our family law lawyers can assist you with your divorce, separation, or annulment, contact The Law Offices of Bamieh & De Smeth, PLC at (805) 643-5555 for a free legal consultation. In the meantime, continue reading to learn more about:

  • The grounds for divorce in California.
  • The difference between “fault” and “no-fault” divorce.
  • California laws concerning adultery and divorce.

What Are the Reasons for Divorce in California?

There are two basic types of divorce in the United States:

  1. Fault Divorce
  2. No-Fault Divorce

In a “fault” divorce, the “petitioner” (filing spouse) cites a specific reason for the divorce. For example, the petitioner might point to issues such as abandonment or cruelty. Depending on the state, different waiting periods might be imposed depending on which reason for divorce is being cited.
California is a “no-fault” state for divorce, which means the petitioner is not required to select specific fault-based grounds for divorce. In fact, California’s divorce laws do not even offer this option. Instead, Californians request divorce based on either:

  1. Irreconcilable Differences
  2. Spouse’s Permanent Incapacity to Make Decisions

The first scenario is more common by a wide margin. The vast majority of divorces in California are based on irreconcilable differences which have led to the irreversible breakdown of the marriage. Due to the relatively loose definition of “irreconcilable differences,” which is broad enough to accommodate a wide range of situations amongst married couples, most California divorces fall under this category.

It is considerably less common – and more difficult – to show that your spouse exhibits a permanent legal incapacity to make decisions, which is another way of saying that your spouse is clinically and incurably insane. Be advised this may involve obtaining expert testimony from a psychiatrist or other medical professionals.

Adultery in Divorce

In contrast to many other states, California, a no-fault divorce state, does not list adultery as one of the grounds for divorce. Nonetheless, adultery or cheating does have an effect upon the amount of compensation that may be available for you. If your spouse used marital funds from your joint bank account to pay for an affair – for instance, renting a hotel room or purchasing plane tickets – it may be possible to request a court order requiring your husband or wife to pay back up to half of the amount that was misappropriated or misused.

Additional compensation may be available as part of an alimony or spousal support order if you underwent therapy as a result of the affair. You may be entitled to part of what you paid for the therapy sessions.

grounds for divorce in southern california

California Divorce Attorneys Serving Ventura and Santa Barbara

At The Law Offices of Bamieh & De Smeth, PLC, we understand that divorce can be a sensitive and difficult subject to approach. Even under the best of circumstances, disagreements concerning child support, disputes over alimony, or simple confusion about laws around property division, can produce tremendous amounts of stress and anxiety.

Allow our attorneys to lighten the burden by guiding you in the process, answering your questions, upholding your rights, and helping you understand your responsibilities and obligations as the petitioning or respondent spouse. Whether you wish to file for divorce and need help getting the process started, or have recently been served with divorce papers and have questions about what to do next, our knowledgeable team of Ventura divorce attorneys is here to provide support and assistance.

With law offices located in downtown Ventura and downtown Santa Barbara, we provide divorce legal services in Oxnard, Santa Maria, Thousand Oaks, Lompoc, Simi Valley, Goleta, Camarillo, Orcutt, Moorpark, Isla Vista, Santa Paula, Carpinteria, Port Hueneme, Montecito, Fillmore, Guadalupe, Oak Park, Vandenberg Village, Ojai, Solvang, El Rio, and other communities in the region. For a free legal consultation concerning your California divorce matter, please do not hesitate to contact our law offices at (805) 643-5555. No question is too small.