In California, a marriage may end as a result of death, annulment or divorce. There are no statutory grounds required to petition the court to get a divorce in California. You can simply check a box claiming irreconcilable differences; alternatively, you could attempt to get a divorce by claiming your spouse is permanently insane. This reason is rarely used, as it requires that you present medical documentation to prove your spouse continued to be insane during the divorce, and has been since you filed your petition.

How to Get a Divorce in California

Before you file for divorce, you have to satisfy residency requirements.

  • You have to have lived in California for six months before the filing and for three months in the county in which you file.
  • You are required to file in the county of your residence.
  • There is an exception to the residency requirements for same-sex couples who were married in California but live in a state that does not recognize same-sex marriage or grant divorces to dissolve them.
  • You may get a divorce through a summary dissolution if you and your spouse have been married for less than five years, have no children, and can agree to the resolution of debts and division of property.
  • In addition, you and your spouse cannot own or rent any buildings, owe more than $6,000 in debt, or own individual or community property worth more than $40,000.

Even if you do not qualify for a summary dissolution, you can still go ahead with an uncontested divorce. If you can work out the majority of the issues between you and your spouse and figure out how to divide property, you can work out an agreement and save time and money in court. This is not an option if the relationship between you and your spouse is particularly acrimonious, or if you are the victim of domestic abuse. In this case, you might want to proceed with an attorney or a mediator in deciding the major issues of the divorce and reaching an agreement. Note that at the beginning of the divorce process, there are mutual restraining orders that go into effect against each party in the divorce.

What Do I Need To Do To File For Divorce?

Initially, you will need to file a petition for dissolution of marriage with the court. There is a form provided for this purpose, and it basically outlines what you are requesting the court to do in the divorce proceeding, as well as providing basic information. This filing begins the process.

You will also need to fill out a summons and a declaration of the property and debts of the marriage. If you have minor children (under 18 years old) whose custody will be resolved by the court, you will have to fill out a Declaration Under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. This form provides basic information on the children, parents or guardians, and any custody agreements that may be in place for the children.

If you need help filling out the forms or having the forms reviewed, please contact A People’s Choice for reasonably priced non-attorney help. After filling out the forms, you have to file them with the court clerk, pay any required filing fees, and finally serve the forms on your spouse. You and your spouse then have to file financial disclosure statements that outline all the property and debts owed, as well as all income and expenses. You have to attach tax documentation to these forms.

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If your spouse does not respond to your petition despite being served, there is no agreement, and enough time has passed, the court may grant a default judgment. If there is no response and there is an agreement, then this is an agreed default. Either way, after this step, your divorce will be complete when the judge enters the final judgment of divorce.