Terminate a Marriage in California

There are several ways to terminate a marriage in California:

Dissolution or Divorce: The marriage will cease at the conclusion of the proceeding.
Annulment or Nullity: Declares that the marriage never existed.
Legal Separation: Resolves all the issues of the marriage, but the parties remain legally married and can retain benefits only available to married persons, such as remaining on each other’s medical insurance.

 
  • Overview of Terminating Marriage

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California is a No-Fault State

California is a no-fault state. This means that there are no “grounds” the court requires to terminate a marriage in California; one party does not receive any more property or support because their spouse committed adultery, left the family home, or was otherwise considered a “bad” spouse. In California, grounds for  terminating a marriage in California marriage  are either 1) irreconcilable differences or 2) incurable insanity. Almost all divorces in California are based on the grounds of “irreconcilable differences.” One party cannot “stop” terminating a marriage in California merely because one party does not want to terminate the marriage. If one spouse says there are irreconcilable differences and the other spouse disagrees, a divorce will still be granted.

In the case of domestic partnerships,depending on whether the parties were married or merely filed for a  domestic partnership under State law will determine which process will be utilized to terminate the relationship under State Law.

All of the above methods provide for the resolution of the division of property, debts, spousal and child support, child custody and visitation.

For more specific information on a variety of California family law issues, click here.

Flow Chart and Timeline

Filing to terminate a marriage in California is a multi-step process. After filing the Summons and Petition with the Court, the non-filing spouse must be served. This starts the timeline within which the case can later be concluded and a final Judgment entered. View Flow Chart.

 

Immediate orders:

 

When a person files court proceedings to terminate a marriage in California, and specifically once a spouse has been served, automatic restraining orders come into effect. Both spouses are ordered by the Court not to:

  1. Remove a child of the parties from the State without prior written permission of the other spouse or by order of the court.
  2. Transfer, sell or encumber (borrow against) any property except in the usual course of business or for necessities.
  3. Cancel, transfer or borrow against any insurance (including life, health, auto, disability) held for the benefit of the other spouse or a minor child.
  4. During the court proceedings, both parties are required to exchange information regarding their property, debts, income and expenses. This exchange is completed through formal “disclosures” between the parties.

During the court proceedings, both parties are required to exchange information regarding their property, debts, income and expenses. This exchange is completed through formal “disclosures” between the parties and is required under Family Code 2100-2113.domestic partnerships,