When filing a petition for dissolution of marriage in California, you will need to find out which California Superior Court has jurisdiction over your case. The court which has jurisdiction over the case is where the divorce needs to be filed.
How Residency Affects Where to File Your Divorce in California
A Court’s jurisdiction to make rulings on a divorce case is established by the residency of the parties – meaning where the parties live at the time the divorce is filed. Each state has created laws which set up particular residency requirements for people filing for divorce in that state. These laws can require that a party be a resident of the state for a period of time, up to a period of 12 months, before they can file for divorce in that state. A person becomes eligible to file for divorce in a particular state by meeting the residency requirements of that state. A few states have no residency requirements, such as Alaska and Louisiana.
In addition to determining whether you can file divorce in a particular state, the parties also have to decide what county in the state their divorce can be filed. In California, if the parties each live in different counties in California, or if one party lives in another state, they may have two options for where their case is filed. The residency requirements to file a divorce in California is only a concern for person contemplating filing divorce who has moved recently or who might want to move in the near future. The filing requirements to file a divorce in California are as follows:
California Divorce Residency Requirements
One of the parties must have been a resident of California for six months and lived in the county in which the proceeding is filed for 3 months before filing the Petition for divorce.
Typically a divorce is filed in the county of residence of the party filing, however, if more convenient for the parties, the petition for divorce can be filed in the county of residence of the non-filing spouse. Some California courts, such as the Los Angeles Superior Court, are extremely congested which means that divorce proceedings filed in Los Angeles Superior Court usually take longer to complete than divorces filed in other California counties. It may be beneficial for the parties to file their divorce in a less-congested court, if the parties live in different California counties and the option is available for them to do so.
Further information about California divorce residency requirements and the particular laws pertaining to jurisdiction and residency can be found in the California Family Code.
If a couple or one of the spouses residing in California does not meet the California divorce residency requirements, a person seeking divorce can file a legal separation initially and amend the Petition at a later time once the residency requirements have been met. This tactic allows a party or the parties to get certain orders and/or make progress through the court system pending meeting the residency requirements. Upon meeting the residency requirement, if the parties are in agreement, an amended Petition can be filed, served and the case completed as a divorce.
If you are contemplating filing a California divorce, need help understanding the California divorce residency requirements or would like to learn more about how A People’s Choice can provide low-cost help with completing the necessary divorce paperwork, please contact our office. A People’s Choice has over 35 years experience helping people through the divorce process and we can help you too. Although our corporate office is in Ventura County, California, we prepare and file family law and divorce paperwork for filing in all northern, central and southern counties in California.