California California

Divorce Law Guide

California Divorce Overview

Residency Requirement
Living Separate & Apart
Processing Time
Filing Fee
3 months
360 days

The facts about divorce in California

Divorce, or dissolution of marriage, is the legal process of severing a marriage contract, which is overseen by a court of law in the state in which one or both of the divorcing spouses live. The process for getting a divorce and acceptible grounds for divorce vary from state to state.

In California, a divorce can be completed on average in a minimum of 360 days, with court fees of $395.00. The state has divorce residency requirements that require the spouse filing for the divorce to have lived in California for a minimum of three months.

On this page, you can learn about California's grounds for divorce, how the divorce process works, and about other parts of the divorce process, such as California alimony calculation, the property division process and more.

California Divorce Law Summary

California has a few unique aspects to their laws as they were one of the first to recognize same sex marriages or "Domestic Partnerships." As a no-fault state, California does not require spouse or partner to prove a reason that the divorce is needed. All that needs to be done is either spouse claiming irreconcilable differences.

The major part of the court case will be taking care of the separation of property, child custody and handling alimony if necessary. If the other spouse or partner does not participate in the case, the courts will issue a default judgment.

If the persons in question are attempting to dissolve a domestic partnership, there are a few things they should be careful about. Federal law does not recognize domestic partnerships in many cases like immigration, veterans' benefits, federal taxes and Medicare. There is a chance they could acknowledge the partnership in areas like Social security. Also, domestic partners should be careful as they may not get the same rights if they leave California due to other states not recognizing the partnership.

If a partnership is to be dissolved, there is a quick way to do it if certain criteria are met. If the partners do not have any children, little to no property and debts, and a written agreement on how the remaining items and debts will be handled. In these cases, there is a way to move it quickly through the California state system.

For the state of California, some of the biggest hurdles are handling the division of property and what the state requires spouses to do on the divorce decree is issued. A lawyer that specializes in California divorce law can save a lot of headache and problems with the case in the long run. With any significant legal action, it is always good to consult someone who knows the workings of the system.

California Divorce Guide - Frequently Asked Questions

In state of California a number of factors are taken into account when ending a marriage.

1. California Grounds for Divorce FAQ

Is California a no-fault divorce state?

California allows no-fault divorces, which means that a divorce is granted without establishing the fault of either spouse for causing the divorce. Grounds for a no-fault divorce in California may be "irreconcilable differences", or similar grounds.

The state of California is exclusively a no-fault divorce state, which means that the only grounds for divorce offered on divorce applications are considered no-fault.

Does California allow at-fault divorces?

California does not support traditional at-fault grounds for divorce, instead offering blanket divorce grounds that do not require either spouse to be proved to be at-fault when filing for divorce.

Does the state of California allow incompatibility as grounds for divorce?

Yes, California does allow incompatibility to be used as grounds for having a divorce.

Can you get a divorce in California for living separate and apart?

In divorce law, "living seperate and apart" refers to married spouses who are living separate from each other, not engaging in a traditional marital relationship, and do not intend to repair the marriage.

California does not allow a divorce to be granted solely on the grounds of living seperate and apart from your spouse. You must instead file for divorce under one of California's accepted grounds for divorce.

2. California Divorce Process FAQ

Does state of California allow legal separation?

Legal separation (otherwise known as "judicial separation") is a legal process that enables spouses to be de facto separated while remaining legally married.

In some cases, California will grant a judicial separation court order to a married couple who wishes to live separately. This order may settle issues generally handled in a divorce such as property division and alimony. A legal separation may be followed up by a full divorce, or the spouses may later reconcile and end the separation while remaining legally married.

What's the difference between a divorce and an annulment in California?

While a divorce is the process of exiting a legally valid marriage, an annulment is the process of rendering a marriage null and void. An annulment makes it legally as if a marriage never took place to begin with.

Generally, annulment is used to conclude a marriage that should not have been legally recognized in the first place, such as a marriage where one of the spouses was unable to consent (by virtue of being underage, due to mental incapacity, or even intoxication), a marriage that was entered into under duress or via fraudulent means, or when one of the spouses was already legally married.

How long do I have to live in in the state of California to get a divorce?

The state of California requires that spouses suing for divorce to have lived in the state for a minimum of three months prior to filing divorce papers. Otherwise, California courts are not considered to have jurisdiction over the divorce case.

What is the filing fee for a divorce in California?

The court fees for filing the paperwork for a basic divorce in a California court is $395.00. However, the total costs for a divorce can be much higher - especially in the case of a contested divorce, where attorney fees and mediation costs average from $15,000 to $20,000 or more.

How long does it take to get a divorce in California?

If the process moves along without holdups, the paperwork for a divorce in California can be processed in a minimum of 360 days. However, if the spouses are not in agreement about the divorce process, a contested divorce can take significantly longer.

3. California General Divorce FAQ

Can my spouse stop me from getting a divorce?

Even if one spouse is opposed to getting a divorce, they cannot stop their partner from filing for and receiving a divorce in California. While filing a non-contested joint petition for divorce speeds up the process, either spouse can file for divorce individually at any time.

| State Law Official Text

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