What Are The Grounds For Divorce In California?


Nabamita Sinha


5 Mins Read

February 28, 2024

Divorce In California

Are you tired of the endless arguments that consume your marriage? Perhaps you’ve reached a point where the only option left is to part ways and seek a divorce. Before you make any hasty decisions, you must first find out if you have grounds for divorce in California.

The good news is that California law does not require you to cite a specific reason to file for divorce. As a no-fault divorce state, most divorces are filed for “irreconcilable differences,” and it is still possible to file for divorce on other grounds that might be applicable in your case. 

According to Sta Rosa divorce lawyer James Carroll, only a part of the divorce-related issues may require court involvement. In reality, lots of couples across the U.S. prefer divorce mediation, an alternative way to settle disputes, to save time and money compared to going through a full-blown court process.

Divorce cases have strict procedural requirements to follow when filing, and you are likely to encounter various obstacles as the divorce proceedings unfold. 

Let’s talk about the grounds that could potentially lead to your divorce:

Irreconcilable Differences

If you’re considering divorce in California, one of the grounds you can cite is the existence of irreconcilable differences between you and your spouse. This means that there are significant issues or problems in your marriage that can’t be resolved, making it impossible for you to continue living together as a married couple.

Irreconcilable differences can include a wide range of issues, such as a lack of communication, incompatible goals or values, or even infidelity. The court doesn’t require you to provide specific details or evidence of these differences, as it understands that every marriage is unique and complex. Despite this, you must state under oath that these differences exist and have caused the irreparable breakdown of your marriage.

Incurable Insanity

The term ‘incurable insanity’ refers to a severe and permanent mental condition that renders the affected spouse incapable of functioning within the marriage. The burden of proof for this lies with the filing spouse, who must demonstrate the presence of incurable insanity through medical records, expert testimony, and other supporting evidence.

To establish the grounds for divorce based on incurable insanity, the filing spouse must show that the mentally ill spouse’s condition is permanent and irreversible. This means that mental illness can’t be treated or improved through any form of medical intervention.

The filing spouse must also demonstrate that the mentally ill spouse’s condition has seriously affected the marriage, making it impossible for the couple to continue living together as a married couple.

If the court determines that the evidence presented is sufficient, it may grant a divorce based on incurable insanity. In such cases, the court will consider factors such as property division, child custody, and spousal support, taking into account the best interests of both parties involved. If you wish to divorce based on incurable insanity in California, you can consult with a family law attorney to understand the specific legal requirements and procedures for it.

In the state of California, permanent legal incapacity refers to a situation where one of the spouses becomes permanently unable to make legal decisions. This could occur due to a mental or physical condition that renders the individual incapable of understanding or participating in the legal process. In such cases, the court may grant a divorce based on the grounds of permanent legal incapacity.

To file for divorce on the grounds of permanent legal incapacity in California, the spouse seeking the divorce must provide evidence to demonstrate that the other spouse is permanently incapacitated, which includes medical records, expert testimonies, or other relevant documentation.

The incapacitated spouse must have been in this condition for a significant period of time, typically at least three years before the court will consider granting a divorce.

In cases of permanent legal incapacity, the court may appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the incapacitated spouse’s interests throughout the divorce proceedings. This is to make sure that their rights are protected and that all decisions made are in their best interest.

If you believe that your spouse is permanently legally incapacitated and you wish to pursue a divorce on these grounds, it’s advisable to consult with an experienced family law attorney who can guide you through the process.


Adultery is a common ground for divorce in California, allowing one spouse to seek legal dissolution of the marriage based on the other spouse’s extramarital affair. If you discover that your spouse has engaged in an adulterous relationship, you may have a valid reason to end your marriage.

Adultery refers to the voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and someone who isn’t their spouse. In California, it isn’t necessary to prove that sexual intercourse occurred; rather, you must provide evidence of a romantic or sexual relationship between your spouse and another person.

To establish adultery as grounds for divorce, you must demonstrate that your spouse had the opportunity and inclination to commit adultery and that they engaged in conduct that demonstrates a disposition towards extramarital affairs. This can be proven through various means, such as photographs, text messages, emails, witness testimonies, or even hotel receipts.

If you decide to file for divorce based on adultery, consult with an experienced family law attorney who can guide you through the legal process. They can help you gather the necessary evidence, understand your rights and options, and have your interests protected throughout the divorce proceedings.

Extreme Cruelty

If your spouse has subjected you to extreme cruelty, you have the right to end your marriage and seek a divorce. In the context of divorce, extreme cruelty refers to any behavior that causes physical or emotional harm, making it impossible for you to continue living with your spouse.

This can include physical abuse, emotional abuse, verbal abuse, threats, or any other form of mistreatment that results in significant harm to your well-being.

To establish extreme cruelty as a ground for divorce, you must provide evidence of the abusive behavior. This can include police reports, medical records, photographs, witness testimonies, or any other documentation that supports your claim. You have to gather as much evidence as possible to strengthen your case and increase your chances of obtaining a divorce based on extreme cruelty.

Once you have filed for divorce on the grounds of extreme cruelty, the court will consider the evidence provided and make a decision. If the court finds that you have been subjected to extreme cruelty, they’ll grant you a divorce and may also consider other factors such as child custody, spousal support, and division of assets.


These are the grounds for divorce in California. These grounds provide individuals with options when seeking to end their marriage. Whether it’s due to irreconcilable differences or other reasons, the decision to divorce is a personal and sometimes difficult one. Understanding the grounds for divorce can help individuals figure out how to handle the legal process and make informed decisions about their future.

Read Also:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like