Dissolution v. Legal Separation
A marriage may be dissolved by dissolution, legal separation, or by nullity (invalid marriage). In Dissolution and Legal Separation Proceedings, the court rules on the rights and financial responsibilities of the parties. A Dissolution of Marriage dissolves the marriage and restores the spouses to single status. CA Family Code § 2300. A Legal Separation, on the other hand, rules on the same rights, but without completely dissolving the marriage. A nullity proceeding determines whether or not the parties were validly married in the first place.
California is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that evidence of fault is improper and inadmissible, unless allowed by statute. Generally, the courts will allow for dissolution upon a showing, by one party domiciled within the state, that there is an “irremediable breakdown” in the marriage. This is typically shown where there is serious marital discord adversely affecting the marriage and conciliation is not feasible. This is also known as “irreconcilable differences.”