Terminate a Marriage in California

There are several ways to terminate a marriage in California:

Dissolution or Divorce: The marriage will cease at the conclusion of the proceeding.
Annulment or Nullity: Declares that the marriage never existed.
Legal Separation: Resolves all the issues of the marriage, but the parties remain legally married and can retain benefits only available to married persons, such as remaining on each other’s medical insurance.

California is a No-Fault State

woman and man sitting on couch looking in different directionsCalifornia is a no-fault state. This means that there are no “grounds” the court requires to terminate a marriage in California; one party does not receive any more property or support because their spouse committed adultery, left the family home, or was otherwise considered a “bad” spouse. In California, grounds for  terminating a marriage in California marriage  are either 1) irreconcilable differences or 2) incurable insanity. Almost all divorces in California are based on the grounds of “irreconcilable differences.” One party cannot “stop” terminating a marriage in California merely because one party does not want to terminate the marriage. If one spouse says there are irreconcilable differences and the other spouse disagrees, a divorce will still be granted.

In the case of domestic partnerships, depending on whether the parties were married or merely filed for a domestic partnership under State law will determine which process will be utilized to terminate the relationship under State Law.

All of the above methods provide for the resolution of the division of property, debts, spousal and child support, child custody and visitation.

For more specific information on a variety of California family law issues, click here.

Flow Chart and Timeline

Filing to terminate a marriage in California is a multi-step process. After filing the Summons and Petition with the Court, the non-filing spouse must be served. This starts the timeline within which the case can later be concluded and a final Judgment entered. View Flow Chart.

As a Registered Legal Document Assistant, we can provide you information and resources so you can:

  1. Compare the specific qualifications for a Summary Dissolution, a Regular Dissolution (Divorce), Annulment or a Legal Separation in California by utilizing our easy comparison chart.
  2. Learn how to terminate a Domestic Partnership.
  3. Learn about Summary Dissolution and take our online test and see if you qualify to file (not everyone is qualified to file a Summary Dissolution).
  4. Discover the advantages of a Marital Settlement Agreement, even in the most simple cases.
  5. Lean how to deal with issues of child custody, visitation and support.
  6. Learn how to change your name during or after your marriage has been terminated.

As a non-attorney legal document preparation service, our office can prepare all of the required documentation necessary for you to successfully file your legal proceedings. We also facilitate processing all paperwork with the court and schedule any necessary hearings. All of our services are offered on a low-cost, flat fee basis. There is no need to hire an attorney. We make it easy for you to represent yourself.

For more information on a specific topic of interest, visit the California family law news section of our website.


Call us today for more information!

Marriage and Domestic Partnerships Proceedings Price
Short term Marriage/Domestic Partnership (no personal property, children or real property) $499
Marriage/Domestic Partnership with personal property (NO children, includes written Agreement) $624
Marriage/Domestic Partnership with children (Includes written Agreement) $624
Marriage/Domestic Partnership with real property (Includes written Agreement) $775
Summary Dissolution (Please check qualifications for Summary Dissolution) $499
Termination of Domestic Partnership through Secretary of State (Please check qualifications for Secretary of State procedure) $499
Petition Only OR Response to Dissolution $200-$300
Motions Price
Custody or Visitation Motion (RFO) $475
Custody, Visitation and/or Support Motion (RFO) $575
Emergency Custody or Visitation Motion (RFO)
Includes request for temporary orders.
$875 min. (add $250 for 24 hr. RUSH preparation)
Emergency Custody, Visitation, Support Motion
Includes request for temporary orders.
$975 min. (add $250 for 24 hour RUSH preparation)
Custody, Visitation and Support Motion with Paternity Petition $875
Ex Parte to Terminate Child Support at 18 $250
Motion for Change of Venue $575
Other motions with more than 2 issues $575 + $100/issue over 2
Motion for Bifurcation and Final Judgment documentation $825
Restraining Order (no children) $400 min.
Restraining Order (with children) $575 min.
Agreements Price
Marital Settlement Agreement only $250+
Stipulation and Order $275+
Paternity petition with Stipulated Judgment $624
Pre or postnuptial Agreement (basic) $299
Nuptial Agreement with complex, custom clauses $999
Grandparent Visitation Price
Petition for Grandparent Visitation within existing Active Family Law Case $850
Petition for Grandparent Visitation without Active Family Law Case $1000
Misc. Documents/Services Price
QDRO $499
Joinder only $250
QDRO with Joinder $749
Preliminary or Final Disclosure Package $325
Application to Serve by Publication $225
Guideline Support Calculations (3 report variations) $100
Trial Brief for family law trial (summary of issues only) $500 min. (depending on issues)

Immediate orders:

When a person files court proceedings to terminate a marriage in California, and specifically once a spouse has been served, automatic restraining orders come into effect. Both spouses are ordered by the Court not to:

  1. Remove a child of the parties from the State without prior written permission of the other spouse or by order of the court.
  2. Transfer, sell or encumber (borrow against) any property except in the usual course of business or for necessities.
  3. Cancel, transfer or borrow against any insurance (including life, health, auto, disability) held for the benefit of the other spouse or a minor child.
  4. During the court proceedings, both parties are required to exchange information regarding their property, debts, income and expenses. This exchange is completed through formal “disclosures” between the parties.

During the court proceedings, both parties are required to exchange information regarding their property, debts, income and expenses. This exchange is completed through formal “disclosures” between the parties and is required under Family Code 2100-2113.

Get help with your California family law documents today!

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