What Options Are Available To Me If I Would Like To End My Marriage in California

In the state of California, there are three ways that you can end your marriage - you can obtain an annulment, legally separate, or get divorced. Just one person needs to want to end their marriage and it is not necessary for the two spouses to agree. California, like all other U.S. states, is a no-fault state. That means that the party who is asking for the divorces isn't required to prove fault by the other party to be granted a divorce. In the past, normally the spouse wanting a divorce would be required to show that she or he was harmed by their spouse committing abandonment, fraud, abuse, or adultery. Fortunately, today a party can just cite irreconcilable differences as their reason.

Filing for a Divorce in California

California divorces are granted on the grounds of either incurable insanity (very rare) or no-fault. This means you do not have to be concerned with offering evidence of your spouse's bad behavior to be granted a divorce. However, the other party's behavior can impact other matters, like alimony or custody, especially if there is any evidence of abuse committed by the other spouse. It is a good idea to consult with a licensed and experienced attorney in your jurisdiction if you have any questions about the circumstances and facts of your divorce and how the results of your case could be affected.

In California, an annulment or a divorce is the only final way that a marriage can be ended, which means you can get remarried. To file for a California divorce there are certain resident requirements that must be met. The same requirements do not need to be met for a legal separation. So even if a couple moved to California recently, they can still file for a separation until at least one of the spouses has met the residency requirements. Another situation where a legal separation may be a good option is when couples are not completely ready to be divorced but would like to live apart or divide up their property before their marital status is terminated. At times this can be a good option for couples who need to stay married for healthcare or immigration purposes. In the situation of a legal separation, either the two parties can agree on how to divide up their property, or they can petition the court to ask them to do this for them. In addition to the couple's property, there can be an order entered that states how each of the spouses will be required to pay for their community obligations, like debts, taxes, utilities, health insurance, and mortgage payments. A separation order also can determine the way property is going to be managed - such as who can use vehicles and have access to real property or certain bank accounts. These orders can also include visitation and child custody. This is the heavy lifting and dirty work that is normally involved in divorces. Therefore, if the two spouses get along fairly well and are able to reach a separation agreement, then it will be a lot easier to finalize a divorce in a couple of months (or years).

An annulment always will be granted for any parties that are involved in a bigamous or incestuous relationship - if one of the spouses is married to another person already or the two parties are closely related. An annulment might be granted as well if one of the spouses was a minor when they got married, or one did not have full capacity to marry (referred to legally as "unsound mind"), or is physically incapable to consummate the marriage. For an annulment, a petitioner is required to prove that a minimum of one of those reasons exists. That can be hard to do, and the evidence rules can be confusing. A licensed, competent attorney in your jurisdiction can help you if you would like to end your marriage by divorce or annulment and discuss the best way that you can end your relationship.

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