California Divorce Law

Overviews of California Divorce State Laws

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California Divorce Laws Explained

California Residency Requirements For Divorce

Before filing California divorce forms, the petitioner must provide proof of being a California resident for six months, and a resident of the filing county for three months. There is a six month waiting period before the court can grant a divorce.

Grounds For Divorce In California

California recognizes both fault and no-fault grounds for divorce.

The no-fault grounds for divorce in California is:

  • irreconcilable differences which have caused the irremediable breakdown of the marriage.

The fault grounds for divorce in California is:

  • incurable insanity.
California Child Custody

The mother and father of an unemancipated minor child are equally entitled to custody of the child. Sole or joint custody is granted according to the best interests of the child.

The following are some of the factors the courts consider in custody issues:

  • health, safety and welfare of the child;
  • nature and amount of contact with both parents.
California Child Support Guidelines

Child support guidelines were adopted by California in 1984. Net income of both parents is considered in the computation of child support. Credit may be given for certain child related expenses, mandatory retirement expenses, and other special circumstances. Child support is almost always paid by way of wage assignment.


Divorce forms may be filed in either the petitioner’s county of residence, or the respondent’s county of residence. However, the petitioner or respondent must have lived in that county for three months prior to filing the divorce forms.


Either party may file a motion requesting mediation to settle issues before or after filing the California divorce papers. If the parties submit to mediation, they may proceed in court on an uncontested basis.