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Divorce / Dissolution

Practice Areas – Divorce / Dissolution

A judgment of dissolution of marriage or of legal separation may be granted only for the following grounds: (1) irreconcilable differences that have caused the irremediable breakdown of the marriage or (2) incurable insanity.

Irreconcilable differences are typically seen in virtually every Petition for Dissolution or Legal Separation. The California law defines irreconcilable differences as substantial reasons for not continuing the marriage and that make it appear that marriage should be dissolved. Courts are quite liberal in finding the requisite irreconcilable differences and, consequently, whether irreconcilable differences are in existence in the marriage is rarely an issue.

Dissolution Residency Requirement: A judgment of dissolution of marriage may not be entered unless at least one of the parties was a resident of California for 6 months, and of the county in which the petition was filed for three months, immediately before the filing of the petition. This residency requirement is mandatory. There is no statutory residency requirement, for a judgment of legal separation. Oftentimes, a Petition for legal separation is filed and when the residency requirement is met (6 months), it is amended to request a judgment of dissolution.

Dissolution vs. Legal Separation: Most parties choose dissolution rather than legal separation because a judgment for dissolution terminates the marriage and restores the parties to the status of unmarried persons. Legal separation is usually chosen by parties who wish to separate their lives but who want to remain legally married, whether for religious reasons, or personal reasons (i.e., continuance of medical insurance). At any time after a judgment of legal separation is granted, either party may file a separate dissolution action to terminate the marriage.