As Mark Twain once said, “To get the full value of joy, you must have someone to divide it with.” But let’s be honest: for some of us, marriage can turn into sour chaos. If you’re a resident of Santa Clara County, CA, and are in this situation, it may be time to find out how to file for divorce in Santa Clara County

It is difficult to name all the reasons for divorce, but there’s no denying how common it is. Some sources state that almost 50% of all marriages in the United States end in divorce or separation. It’s interesting to note that back in 2012, the California divorce rate was set at 60%! That means if you want to know how to file for divorce in Santa Clara County, you’re definitely not alone.

If you for any reason decide to end your marriage and are residing in Santa Clara County, you should know the California Family Code applies to all divorces filed there. This article covers how to file for divorce in Santa Clara County, including details on how to prepare for a divorce in California in general. 

How to File for Divorce in Santa Clara County: The Basic Divorce Process

There’s no denying that sometimes, divorce may be challenging. We all remember the drama behind Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt’s divorce,  which was also subject to the laws of California. However, there are some divorce laws in place that can make countless divorce actions much easier.

If you are looking to end your marriage, you have to understand the difference between two most common procedures: Summary dissolution and “classic” divorce. Only then can you decide which one is fit for your case.

Summary dissolution is more cost-effective, less formal, and faster than the alternative. But (there’s always a “but”), not every divorce case is eligible for summary dissolution. Your case must meet all statutory demands to execute this option. We’ll discuss this further in a moment.

“Classic” Divorce is, in contrast, less cost-effective, more formal, and not as fast as summary dissolution. Look at this process as a secondary option you can always use if the summary dissolution does not work for you. But don’t get discouraged! Even classic divorce proceedings can be streamlined with proper planning, especially in the case of an uncontested divorce.

Let’s take a closer look at the specifics of these processes.

Summary Dissolution

If you are considering summary dissolution, you should first do a self-assessment and see if your case meets the following minimum requirements. There are quite a few benefits in divorce proceedings that follow this format, which is essentially an alternative to divorce. Because of the many challenges of divorce, many couples find the most preferable of the various divorce options.

The important thing to remember is that summary dissolution is for amicable divorces with minimal assets. If you’re expecting a contested divorce, a summary dissolution won’t work for you.

General Requirements

  • You have no minor children and are not expecting children at the time of the dissolution
  • Your marriage lasted less than 5 years
  • You and your spouse both agree to submit under this process. That requires at least a solid relationship and communication.
  • You and your spouse agree to forego spousal support
  • You and your spouse waive your right to appeal once the court enters the summary dissolution
  • One spouse must have been a CA resident for at least six months and a resident of the county the divorce is being filed for at least three months.

Requirements for Possessions

  • Neither of you owns real estate.
  • If you have a lease, it must end within one year from the date of filing the summary dissolution petition.
  • Neither spouse has incurred more than $6,000 in debt since the beginning of marriage.
  • Community property value (joint possessions) is $38,000 or less.
  • Neither spouse individually owns over $38,000 in assets. They may have owned this before the marriage or since a separation.
  •  You must be able and willing to enter into a property settlement agreement to divide your community property.

If the answer is yes, you can expect an expedited process. California requires a six-month waiting period to terminate any marriage, so it will take at least that long. However, this is still far preferable to seeking a normal divorce judgment.

Standard Divorce

If your case doesn’t meet the criteria for summary dissolution, you can always terminate your marriage via the standard process of divorce. The dynamics and duration of a divorce are difficult to predict. Mostly, it depends on the nature of relationship between the spouses, possibility to agree, assets and willingness to agree on the division of assets, etc.

That means, depending on your circumstances, your divorce decree may be relatively short and painless! If at all possible, strive for an amicable divorce judgement; this is the simplest path to mitigating divorce cost and duration. Also, because California is a no-fault divorce state, it’s a bit easier to pursue divorce here than in other states.

Uncontested Divorce, Contested Divorce, and Default Divorce

After you file a motion for divorce, your motion is served to your spouse for response. After that, the divorce process may go two ways.

Contested Divorce and Uncontested Divorce: If your spouse files a response within 30 days of being served, your case can be considered a contested divorce or an uncontested divorce. This means that both parties intend to participate in the process and finish their case, hopefully by agreement. If both parties agree on everything, the divorce is uncontested; if there are some disagreements, the divorce is contested.

If the attempt to reach a marital settlement agreement fails, the court steps in. A judge then delivers a final decision for the divorce petition based on the circumstances of the case.

Default Divorce: If your spouse does not file a response within 30 days of being served, you can submit a request for trial so the court can render a judgement without the passive spouse being present. In that case, your case is considered a default divorce. This is not a collaborative divorce because one spouse is totally absent from the proceedings.

In order to get a default judgement, you must file a request to enter default. If your request to enter default is granted, you must submit a proposed judgement for the judge to review and sign. For more details, please check out our the California divorce court website.

How to File for Divorce in Santa Clara County

How to File for Divorce in Santa Clara County

If you’re wondering how to file for divorce in Santa Clara County specifically, you’re in the right place! Every county is different, and Santa Clara County has its own requirements for dissolving a marriage license.

To file for divorce in Santa Clara County, you must complete and file the relevant divorce papers at the county clerk’s office. From there, there are a few special rules you should keep in mind as you pursue your divorce judgement.

Server Rules and Timeline

Your server is the person who personally delivers the summons & petition to your spouse. From there, your spouse has 30 days to file the responsive forms (FL-120 and Fl-105 if there are children).  If they don’t do that, you can apply for a default divorce judgment.

Temporary Orders

Do you want a hearing to request temporary orders such as custody, visitation, child support, and/or spousal support? If so, you must complete, file, and serve additional forms. If you’re not sure where to start, feel free to contact us for help with your forms.

 Court Appearances and Judgement

When your case is set to go, the court issues a Case Management Conference (CMC) court date. At the CMC, the court may refer you to see an attorney at Family Court Clinic (at no cost to you). This attorney can provide divorce advice, review your file, and figure out what needs to be done to complete the dissolution of marriage.

If you and your soon-to-be ex would like to finish your case together by agreement, you both need to complete your judgement. After your entire judgement is completed, you must file it at the clerk’s office to be reviewed by the judgement clerk. Both parties must appear at the court hearing, and you must have your completed judgement packet with you.

For more details, please see this section of the California courts website.

How to File for Divorce in Santa Clara County: FAQ

Here are the most common questions law offices get about how to file for divorce in Santa Clara County.

Where Is the Santa Clara County Divorce Court?

You can file your case in the courthouse from Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the following locations:

  •       170 Park Avenue, San Jose, CA
  •       99 Notre Dame Ave., San Jose, CA
  •       605 W. El Camino Real, Sunnyvale, CA
  •       301 Diana Ave., Morgan Hill, CA

What Are the Filing Fees for Divorce in Santa Clara County?

There is a $435 filing fee unless the fee is waived. There are also a variety of other fees married couples seeking a divorce should be aware of. You can see the fees breakdown on the Santa Clara Court website. You can get more information from the clerk who takes your forms at the clerk-recorder’s office.

How Long Does Divorce Take in Santa Clara County?

As we mentioned earlier, it is difficult to exactly predict the duration of your divorce. It depends on many circumstances of your case that may affect its duration.

The mandatory six-month waiting period is a big factor in divorce length. At earliest, your divorce may end six months from the date your spouse was served with the divorce forms or six months from the date they filed a response. However, please note that you won’t automatically be divorced after six months. Your spouse must complete and file the necessary legal forms and documents to finish the case.

Do I Need a Divorce Lawyer to Divorce in Santa Clara County?

You don’t necessarily need assistance from an experienced divorce lawyer to complete a divorce. There are many tools available to do it by yourself either as an online divorce or in person. By doing so, you can cut your cost and save time as you pursue your legal separation without a family lawyer.

However, divorce varies greatly depending on many circumstances. If your case is particularly complicated, especially if it includes child custody and visitation issues or complex asset division, you might choose to pursue divorce mediation or hire a lawyer. This is especially true for divorce trials with a big divorce settlement on the line.

How to File for Divorce in Santa Clara County with A People’s Choice

Divorce is a tough process. If for any reason you are considering an online divorce service, remember that A People’s Choice is here to help. As a divorce document preparation service, we can help you properly prepare your paperwork so you can face physical custody issues, a default judgment, property division, divorce through judgement, and many related areas in various types of divorce. Best of all, we can do all this at a fraction of the price of a divorce attorney.

You don’t need a pricey divorce firm to help with your divorce documentation. Check out our blog for more divorce info if you have divorce law questions, or contact us today to get started on your DIY divorce!