California is a no fault state for purposes of seeking to dissolve a marriage. However, the filing party still has to state grounds before the court will grant a dissolution of marriage. The only grounds available before the court may grant a dissolution of the marriage or legal separation of the parties are either: (i) irreconcilable differences, which have caused the irremediable breakdown of the marriage or (ii) permanent legal incapacity to make decisions.
Irreconcilable differences are substantial reasons for not continuing the marriage and which make it appear that the marriage should be dissolved. They have been broadly construed so that it is rarely challenged. However, if the court concludes there is a reasonable possibility of reconciliation then it must continue the proceeding for no more than 30 days.
Permanent legal incapacity requires a higher burden of proof generally supported by competent medical or psychiatric testimony that the party lacked capacity at the time the petition was filed.
In addition, at least one party shall be a resident of the State of California at least six months prior to the filing of the petition to dissolve the marriage and of the county in which the proceeding is filed for at least three months. If a party does not meet the residency requirements they may still proceed by filing for a request for a legal separation and amending the petition to dissolve the marriage once the residency requirements are satisfied.
A party must allege proper grounds to dissolve the marriage and meet the residency requirements before the court may rule on the relief requested. If you are considering filing an action, contact our office for a consultation to discuss your rights.
Shannon R. Loeser, Esq.
Certified Family Law Specialist
28202 Cabot Road, Suite 520
Laguna Niguel, CA 92677
Tel: (949) 392-5050