Filing for divorce in California is a relatively easy task. However, it’s important to educate yourself on state-specific laws and requirements prior to filing.
California Divorce Laws
California is a no-fault divorce state. In other words, anyone filing divorce in California does not have to provide a legal claim convincing the court to allow him or her to file.
Legal Grounds for Divorce
California allows state residents to file for divorce on one of the following legal grounds:
1. Irreconcilable Differences – Irreconcilable differences between spouses lead to the irremediable breakdown of the marriage resulting in dissolution of the partnership.
2. Incurable Insanity – Filing a petition for marital dissolution on the grounds of incurable insanity requires proof of competent medical testimony. The partner must prove that the insane spouse was incurably insane when the petition was filed and remains that way today.
Residential Requirements for Divorce
To file for divorce in California, one spouse must be a state resident for six months or 180 days prior to filing the petition. Once a spouse is served a marital dissolution petition, the marriage will be terminated after a six month waiting period.
Division of Property
Further, California uses a community property system to divide marital assets and debts. In this system, all property and debts the spouses acquired while married are shared equally between the two upon divorce unless otherwise agreed upon.
Steps for Filing Divorce in California
There are five basic steps for filing divorce in California:
1. Complete the Proper Court Forms
In order to begin the marital dissolution process, you will have to complete Form FL-100 and FL-110.
FL-100 requires basic information about your marriage and the orders you would like the court to make. FL-110 contains important information about the divorce process including what spouses can and cannot do with community property, money, and other assets and debts.
2. File Court Forms with the Clerk
Once you have completed all the required forms to file for divorce, you will need to provide the original signed forms to the clerk of the court. Additionally, make sure to have two additional copies of the signed forms; one for your records and the other to serve on your spouse.
Once the clerk receives your divorce forms, they will place a “filed” stamp on them and assign a case number, opening your marital dissolution petition.
If you would like the judge to make temporary orders pending the result of your divorce, you will need to file additional forms. Contact us for more information.
3. Serve Your Court Forms on the Respondent
Due process requires the divorce forms to be served on your spouse. You must have someone over 18 years of age who is not a party to the lawsuit serve your spouse with all copies of your current court documents.
Note that your spouse must be properly served for the judge to make any orders regarding your dissolution.
The date of service initiates the six-month waiting period.
4. Complete Your Financial Disclosure Forms
Once your marital dissolution petition is filed, you have 60 days to complete your financial disclosure forms and provide a copy to the court and respondent. This is a mandatory requirement for the petitioner; you must exchange the financial disclosure in order to obtain a divorce.
5. Submit Final Judgment
Once served, the respondent has 30 days to file a formal response with the court. In many cases, the divorce will proceed by default and the respondent will not file a response.
This is the easiest way to complete a divorce case and also saves the respondent from paying a court filing fee. After 30 days, a default judgment can be submitted to the court.
Filing Divorce in California Without a Lawyer
Not all marital dissolutions require active legal representation. In fact, filing divorce in California without a lawyer is a great option for many people seeking to inexpensively dissolve their marriage.
In California, you have the right to represent yourself as a pro se litigant during your divorce. If you use mediation, your marital dissolution can easily be settled without having to litigate any issues.
At A People’s Choice, we can help you file all the required documentation to commence a California divorce proceeding and help you get your divorce finalized. If necessary, you can always consult with an attorney for legal advice if you need help addressing certain issues along the way.
Representing yourself in a marital dissolution can save you thousands of dollars. Contact us for more information.