California is strictly a No-Fault divorce state. This means that the parties do not allege fault or misconduct on the part of the other spouse in order to obtain the divorce.

Instead, the court must only find:

  1. That the relationship is no longer viable;
  2. That irreconcilable differences have caused an irremediable breakdown of the marriage;
  3. That discord or conflict of personalities have destroyed the legit ends of the marital relationship and prevents any reasonable possibility of reconciliation; or
  4. That the marriage is irretrievably broken. Fault may be considered as a factor in awarding alimony or property division.

California requires that a person be a resident of the state for 6 months or 180 days before they file a petition for divorce.

California is a community property state in determining marital assets as opposed to dividing property on an equitable division basis. Community property means that all assets of the marital estate regardless of who earned them, the amount earned, or the amount either spouse contributed to the estate are marital property, if earned during the course of marriage. All marital assets are divided 50/50 between the spouses.

Custody of children in California divorces is determined by the best interest of the child standard. The court assumes that it is in the best interest of the child to maintain contact with both parents.

Custody is usually given to the primary caregiver in cases involving young children; however, it is no longer true that the wife always gets custody of the children when they are older.

California like every state in the union requires that both parents provide financial support for the child. The court attempts to maintain the standard of living the child enjoyed during the marriage. This is based on the notion that the child is the innocent party during a divorce and should not suffer because the parents can no longer maintain their relationship. The amount is determined by a formula that calculates the earning potential of each spouse.

California has resources available for people who wish to pursue a divorce without legal counsel, including some forms online. You should consider a do-it-yourself only in simple uncomplicated divorces. In complicated matters involving custody, support and property division consider getting competent legal advice.


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