understanding California divorce laws

Did you know that filing for divorce in California does not require an attorney? Instead, divorcing spouses must simply familiarize themselves with California divorce laws. Below is a brief overview of some common California divorce laws couples should explore before filing for divorce.

Start My California Divorce

California Divorce Waiting Period

The waiting period for California divorce is six months from the date the petitioner officially serves his or her spouse with the petition for dissolution and notice to appear. Family Law Code section 2339(a) outlines the waiting period:

Subject to subdivision (b) and to Sections 2340 to 2344, inclusive, no judgment of dissolution is final for the purpose of terminating the marriage relationship of the parties until six months have expired from the date of service of a copy of summons and petition or the date of appearance of the respondent, whichever occurs first.

This six month waiting period allows both parties to turn in all their paperwork to the court for judgement approval. Luckily, most couples in amicable divorce cases completely resolve their separation long before the six months pass! However, couples may not obtain a termination date of their marriage prior to the completion of this waiting period. In other words, though the final judgment may be approved, the marriage will not be officially terminated until the conclusion of the six months.

California Laws on Adultery

In California, the standard grounds for divorce are incurable insanity or irreconcilable differences. Therefore, under California state law, adultery is not a valid legal ground for divorce. In other words, a person does not have to prove that their spouse has been unfaithful to request a divorce. That said, a spouse may be able to recover compensation from the cheating party if they used community property money to fund the extramarital relationship. For example, if a spouse took $4,000 of community property to fund a romantic getaway with his mistress, then his wife may request a reimbursement to the community.

California Laws on Alimony

When divorcing, the parties may be able to agree upon how much alimony will be paid to the supported spouse. However, if the parties cannot agree, the court will make the final determination based on the following factors:

  • extent to which the earning capacity of each party is sufficient to maintain the standard of living established during the marriage
  • extent to which the supported party contributed to the attainment of an education, training, career position, or license for the supporting party
  • supporting party’s ability to pay spousal support, accounting for earning capacity, earned and unearned income, assets, and standard of living
  • each party’s needs based on the standard of living established during the marriage
  • each party’s obligations and assets, including the separate property
  • duration of the marriage
  • supported party’s ability to engage in gainful employment without unduly interfering with the interests of dependent children in their custody
  • each parties’ age and health
  • documented evidence of any history of domestic violence
  • each party’s immediate and specific tax consequences
  • balance of each party’s hardships
  • goal that the supported party shall be self-supporting within a reasonable period of time
  • an abusive spouse’s criminal conviction
  • any other factors the court determines are just and equitable

See Family Law Code section 4320 for more information.

Laws on Child Support

Child support is the amount of money the court orders one parent to pay the other to help pay for the support of a child and their living expenses. Typically, the court uses a formula referred to as “guideline” to calculate child support requirements. The guideline calculation depends on the following:

  • each parent’s earnings or earning power
  • each parent’s income
  • number of children the parents share
  • amount of time each parent spends with their children (a.k.a time-share)
  • each parent’s tax filing status
  • support of children from other relationships
  • health insurance expenses
  • mandatory union dues
  • mandatory retirement contributions
  • cost of sharing daycare and uninsured healthcare costs

California Military Divorce Laws

California military divorce laws have different rules for residency requirements, dividing military pensions, and obtaining process service for an active duty spouse. For example, a military couple can finalize divorce in California without meeting the standard six month residency rule. However, one spouse must live and be stationed in California.

That said, the grounds for military divorce are the same as a civilian divorce. However, while community property is divided the same way, the Uniformed Services Former Spouse’s Protection Act governs the calculation and division of military retirement benefits upon divorce. Finally, child support and alimony cannot exceed 60% of the military member’s pay and allowances.

Contact A People’s Choice for more educational resources on California divorce laws. Then, if you want to file for a divorce in California, A People’s Choice can provide low-cost, professional assistance in preparing the paperwork. We offer the perfect solution with a variety of options to get your case started and quickly maneuvered through the legal system. Call us today at 800-747-2780 to learn more!

Start your California divorce today!

A People’s Choice can save you hundreds of dollars by preparing your legal documents instead of an expensive attorney!

Start My Divorce