When filing a petition for dissolution of marriage in California, you need to research which California Superior Court has jurisdiction over your case. Ultimately, the court with jurisdiction is the court with which you must file for divorce. In California, the residency of the divorcing parties will determine the court’s jurisdiction. In other words, the court with jurisdiction depends on where each party lives at the time of filing.

Residency Requirements for Divorce in the United States

Almost every state in the U.S. has laws determining particular residency requirements for people filing for divorce. Typically, a divorcing party must be a resident of the state for a set time before they can file for divorce there. However, note that a few states, such as Alaska and Louisiana, do not have residency requirements for divorcing parties.

After determining whether they can file divorce in their state, parties must also determine in which county they may file. For example, in California, if the parties live in different counties, or if one party lives in another state, they may have two options for filing their case. Typically, residency requirements are only a concern for someone who has recently moved or is considering moving very soon.

California Divorce Residency Requirements

To file divorce in California, one of the parties must have been a resident of California for six months. Additionally, they must have lived in the county in which the proceeding is filed for three months prior to filing the petition for divorce.

Typically, filing parties do so in the county of their residency. However, if more convenient, they may also file the petition in the county of the non-filing spouse’s residency. For example, some California courts, such as the Los Angeles Superior Court, are extremely congested. As a result, divorce proceedings filed with the Los Angeles Superior Court usually take longer to complete than those in other counties. Thus, some parties find it beneficial to file in a less-congested court if possible.

You can find further information about California divorce residency requirements and the particular laws pertaining to jurisdiction and residency in the California Family Code.

What Happens if You Don’t Meet the Requirements?

If both spouses do not meet California residency requirements, they can initially file for legal separation. Then, once they meet the requirements, they can amend the petition for divorce. This tactic allows parties to obtain certain orders and/or progress through the court system pending meeting the residency requirements.

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A People’s Choice Can Help

If you are contemplating filing a California divorce, need help understanding the residency requirements, or would like to learn more about how A People’s Choice can provide low-cost help with the necessary divorce paperwork, please contact our office. A People’s Choice has over 40 years’ experience helping people through the divorce process, and we can help you too! In fact, we prepare and file family law paperwork in all northern, central, and southern counties in California. Call us today at 800-747-2780 for more information.