How to Get a Divorce in California

Divorce or dissolution of marriage, and is the process of terminating a marriage. California was the first state to adopt a “no-fault divorce”. This implies that you can get a divorce even if your spouse does not agree to it.

Requirements Needed To Get a Divorce in California

You must be a resident of the state of California for at least six months before filing the divorce petition. You must also live in the county where you file for a divorce petition for at least three months before filing. After you have filed for a divorce petition, you have to wait for at least six months for the court to grant you a divorce.

You Must File the Following Forms during a Divorce Court Process

  • FL-110: This form informs your partner that a divorce court process has started, and what will happen if they do not respond in 30 days.
  • FL-115: Informs the court that your spouse was served with the papers
  • FL-105: Tells the court who has been staying with the children and if any custody orders exist regarding this case.
  • FL-311: talks about child custody and visitation
  • FL160: You and your spouse list the community and separate property including debts.

California Summary Dissolution

If you have been married for less than five years, you have no children, you do not own real estate, and you have limited property and debts, then you may qualify for a summary dissolution. You do not require an appearance before a judge. However, you and your spouse must create an agreement about how you will divide your property and debts then file it along with a joint petition.

Steps for a Typical Dissolution of Marriage

Step 1: Serve Your Spouse

You file for a divorce petition and serve it to your spouse, who is the respondent. The respondent then will file a response to the divorce petition in thirty days. You or your spouse may request temporary court orders by filing for an Order to Show Cause hearing. Here, the judge will make temporary child custody, support, and restraining orders.

Step 2: Engage in Discovery

You and your spouse then engage in discovery. This is where you share and exchange information about the divorce. You may also prepare for the Preliminary Declaration Disclosure in which each spouse lists the community and separate property. You exchange income and expense declarations with your spouse.

Step 3: Consider a Divorce Settlement

You, together with your attorney/s (if you are represented), can discuss the settlement of the case. If the case is resolved, one of the attorneys will prepare a Marital Settlement Agreement with the terms of the agreement. The agreement should have your and your spouse’s signature. In addition, both of your attorney’s signatures should be in the contract. All these signings and fillings can be done online.

Step 4: Move to Trial

If you and your spouse do not agree on all of the issues, then a trial will take place. After you sign the Marital Settlement Agreement or after the trial has concluded, one of the attorneys will prepare a Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage. This document contains all the court’s orders. The judgment is filed and the court mails a Notice of Entry of Judgment to each attorney.

Conclusion – Divorce in California

A divorce in California can be a tough process if you choose to go through it without an attorney. We recommend that you hire a divorce attorney to help you get a fair divorce. And most important, that can help you move on with your life with peace of mind. While the divorce is ongoing, the spouses will have to file their taxes as a couple.

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