Getting Divorced in California – A Guide

A divorce can be a complex issue legally, emotionally, and financially. 

There are many nuances to consider, and you may want to seek out divorce support services to help make the process go smoother and to ensure you leave no loose ends.

Every divorce is unique and will require adjustments based upon your circumstances. California is a no-fault divorce state, meaning you can file a “no fault” divorce, citing irreconcilable differences and be granted a divorce, even if the other party does not agree. 

This lowers the bar for proving grounds for a divorce, and allows the process to move forward with less obstacles on your path. Today, we will take a look at the divorce process in California and share some must-know information you will need to consider before filing.

Steps To Filing For Divorce In California

When filing for a divorce in California, you have options: you can DIY (do it yourself), hire a divorce consultant to assist you in the filing process, or hire a divorce attorney to manage the process. Whichever one you choose, the same basic steps will need to be completed. You can save yourself time and money by understanding them ahead of time.  

Step #1: Confirm That You Qualify For California Residency

You need to confirm that at least one of the parties has been a resident of the State of California for at least six months before filing for a divorce. It is also required that you live in the county where you are going to file the divorce petition for a minimum of three months before filing. 

Step #2: Ensure That You, Your Children, And Property Are Protected

If you are involved in a domestic violence situation, it is vital to protect yourself, your children, and your property ahead of time. It is essential to legally notify schools and child care providers that your child only be released to you. If you are concerned that your assets may be taken advantage of by your spouse, make sure that you secure your assets and that you are the only one that can access them. In highly volatile situations like these, ensure that you document all interactions with your spouse, as this may be vital evidence in your divorce.

Step #3: Gather All Necessary Information

In the state of California, both you and your spouse will need to show how much you earn, what properties you own, and debt to creditors.

 Have copies of essential documents accessible in a secure place:

  • Investment statements
  • Bank statements
  • Mortgage and loan documents
  • Credit card statements, pay stubs, W-2 forms
  • Deeds, vehicle titles, tax return
  • Life and health insurance
  • Utility bills
  • Your driver’s license and social security card

It is also beneficial to make sure you have written down your estimated monthly living expenses.

Step #4: Setting Up Temporary Child Support Or Alimony If Needed

The court can do a temporary spousal support order if you need child support or alimony during the divorce process, requiring filling out and filing additional forms with the court. It is recommended that you consult a legal professional to prepare for this situation.

Step #5: Deciding Which Procedure To Move Forward With

California has both a traditional dissolution of marriage procedure and a summary dissolution of marriage procedure. Several factors will determine which procedure you will be able to use. The summary procedure option is only available for those that need the following requirements: 

  • You have not been married for more than five years 
  • You have no children  together
  • You and your spouse both agree to get a divorce
  • You have no real estate, and if you have a residential lease, it must expire within one year of filing
  • All debts are under $6,000 other than auto loans
  • All Community owned property is valued at less than $41,000 end neither party has more than $41,000 in separate properties, and this includes any Auto loans or encumbrances
  • Both parties spacing the right to sell some reports and rights to have an appeal or ask for a new trial
  • Both parties must read the brochure about the summary procedure.

Under the circumstances that all of these requirements are not met, the traditional dissolution of marriage procedure will be the one you move forward with.

Step #6: Prepare All Necessary Documents

All forms for a California divorce may be obtained from the court clerk or online resources. A petition for dissolution of marriage needs to be filed as well as all financial disclosure forms. If you have minor or dependent children, you must establish child custody and child support forms. The forms for a summary procedure will be a separate set of forms. 

Step #7: File Forms With The Court

If you are filing for your divorce yourself, all forms will need to be filed to the clerk’s office of the superior court and will need to pay a filing fee. If you have a divorce attorney helping you, they will file the forms for you.

If both parties agree, the dissolution of marriage will go to the judge.

When there is a disagreement on issues, a request for a trial will be made and go before a judge to settle. 

Step #9: Judgement Of Dissolution Of Marriage

Once everything is agreed upon, the judge will sign a judgment of dissolution of marriage, and both you and both parties will receive a certified copy of the judgment. Generally, the waiting time of a California divorce is six months from when the petition is filed with the court.

We Have Over 20 Years Experience With Legal Document Assistance

With over 20 years of legal experience at Valley Divorce Services, our legal document assistants (LDAs) provide self-representing litigants with legal documentation assistance. We can perform the following legal document services for you in connection with a legal matter in which you are representing yourself:

  • We can type or otherwise complete, as you specifically direct, legal documents that you have selected;
  • We can provide you general published factual legal information that has been written or approved by an attorney to help you represent yourself;
  • We can provide you published legal documents;
  • We can file and serve legal forms and documents as you specifically direct;
  • We can work in conjunction with limited-scope representation between lawyers and clients.

Request a free legal consultation today for more information on how we can help you plan for your future.