Mar. 2, 2021

Grounds for Termination of Marriage

There are only two legal grounds for dissolution of marriage or legal separation in California. The first is "irreconcilable differences," meaning the marriage or partnership cannot be saved. The other reason is "incurable insanity" which, unlike irreconcilable differences, must be proven.


If you are seeking a nullity of marriage or a domestic partnership, you will need to prove in a court hearing that your marriage satisfies one of the grounds listed below. These must have applied at the time you and your spouse married or you and your partner registered:


  • Incest: incest means the spouses or registered partner are close blood relatives.
  • Bigamy: bigamy means a spouse or partner was knowingly married or registered to another person at the time of marriage or at the time of registration of the domestic partnership.
  • Underage: underage means a spouse or partner was below age 18 years at the time of marriage or registration of the domestic partnership and did not obtain parental consent and a court order permitting the marriage.
  • Prior Existing Marriage or Prior Existing Domestic Partnership: a prior existing marriage or prior existing domestic partnership means a spouse married or a partner registered on the mistaken belief that his or her previous marriage or partnership had ended in the death of the other spouse or partner, who in fact was still living.
  • Unsound Mind: unsound mind means a spouse or partner could not and has not formed the intent to marry or registered due to a mental condition.
  • Fraud: fraud means deception regarding a significant matter that led to the marriage or the partnership and continued until the breakup.
  • Force: force means threats or acts of harm were used to force one spouse or partner into the marriage or domestic partnership.
  • Incapacity: incapacity means a spouse or partner was and continues to be physically unable to consummate the marriage or partnership.
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