Do You Have to Have “Grounds” For Divorce in California?

No. California is a “No Fault” divorce state. This means you do not have to prove with legal evidence your reason (grounds) for getting divorced. In your Petition requesting your divorce you just state that you have “irreconcilable differences.” This is the basis or grounds for your divorce. You do not have to prove you have irreconcilable differences, you merely state that they exist.

This means that you do not have to prove that your spouse committed adultery, abuse or abandonment in order to get divorced in California. These things may or may not have happened in your marriage and may or may not be one of the reasons you want a divorce, the court just does not require you to prove it.

Clients often want the court to know why they are getting a divorce, especially when they perceive that the other spouse has done something “wrong” to end the relationship. It is frustrating that they are never “heard” by the court. In mediation, these issues may come up and can, at least, be discussed.

Just because the Court does not require you to prove these issues, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have unresolved feelings about them if they occurred during your marriage. And while the court may not wish to hear about it, it can be very helpful to discuss your feelings with a counselor.

If domestic violence is an issue in your marriage, the court can issue retraining orders. The grounds for your divorce would still be “irreconcilable differences” and proving Domestic Violence is not required to get a divorce. However, it is strongly recommended that you get help if you and/or your children are victims of Domestic Violence. The court has free assistance available for victims of Domestic Violence. If proved to the court’s satisfaction, domestic violence may have an effect on certain outcomes in the divorce, such as spousal support or child custody and visitation.

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