California Divorce Basics.

Many issues can arise in a California divorce, and having a basic grasp of the main issues and process can help with easing emotions and formulating a plan of action to move forward. This brief guide is to provide a quick overview of why California is called a “no-fault state” and a “community property state.” We also try to touch upon the main issues that couples must deal with in a divorce, and how the divorce process works from beginning to end.

California is a No-Fault STATE &
CALIFORNIA IS A Community Property State

You’ve probably heard that a lot, but here is what it means in a nutshell.


A no-fault state in terms of divorce means that neither spouse is required to prove that something went wrong or that the other spouse committed some sort of fault to obtain a divorce. What this effectively means is that you can divorce without your spouse’s consent, even when the spouse did not commit any “fault.”

Community Property

A community property state usually means is that the assets (property) and debts acquired during marriage are considered “community property,” and are owned equally by both spouses. This means that during a divorce, the community assets and debts are to be divided equally (50-50). In court, this means the argument is never about who should get more or less, but more about why an asset or debt is “community” or why it is “separate.”

Main Issues in a California Divorce

In a California divorce, for most cases, there are only four main issues that we try to resolve:

(1) How to divide the assets and debts;
(2) How to determine the length and amount of spousal support;
(3) How to make a child custody and visitation plan; and,
(4) How to calculate child support.

California law has an array of statutes and case law that address the many different situations that a married couple find themselves in. Frequently, understanding how the statutes and case law applies to one’s situation can help couples come to an agreement sooner in the divorce process.

Do I have to follow California Law?

The short answer is no. For those that want to change California law, a valid prenuptial agreement or post-marital agreement can change the default California laws so that their divorce can follow an agreed upon method instead of having California law imposed on them.