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How To Get Divorce In California

Residency Requirements For California Divorce

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A spouse or couple must meet a few requirements to be eligible to file for a divorce in the Golden State. Every state protects its own jurisdictions, applying the appropriate laws to individual divorce cases. If you do not meet the California residency requirements, the courts might dismiss your case. You do not have to divorce in the same state you married in, but you do have to meet certain California residency requirements.

Basic Elements of Residency Requirements

The main rule to remember is that you or your spouse must live in California to obtain a divorce in California. If neither of you is a resident, the courts will deny your request to file for divorce. You do not both have to be residents, but the spouse filing for the divorce should be one. As in other states, California courts require that you meet a few conditions before they will hear a divorce case.

In California, either you or your spouse must have been a state resident for at least six months prior to filing. You also must have lived a minimum of three months in the county you are filing for divorce within. If you or your spouse has been a California resident for at least six months but not a resident of your county for three months, you can file in the county you previously lived in. If you and your spouse live in separate counties, file in the county that you have lived in for at least three months.

What If I Do Not Meet the Residency Requirements?

Serving The Divorce Papers

The next step is to “serve” your spouse with copies of the petition and other divorce papers you filed, along with blank forms for your spouse’s response and declaration about children. Usually, you’ll do this by having a county sheriff or professional process server hand over the documents to your spouse in person.

If your spouse will agree to accept service by mail, you may instead have another adult mail the documents, along with two copies of a form that your spouse will sign and return to acknowledge having received the divorce papers.

After you’ve finished serving your spouse, you’ll need to file a “proof of service” form with the court. If you haven’t been able to find or serve your spouse , ask the court clerk for information about other ways of completing service of process. .)

Will My Divorce Be Final Six Months After I File

There is a six month waiting period for a divorce to become final. This does not mean that anything will automatically happen in six months. Many people assume that, since its been over six months, their divorce should be final.

The reality is that six months is the earliest a court will grant a final divorce , but most divorces take far more than six months to complete. In order to complete your divorce, you will either need to settle your divorce case or you will need to take your case to trial.

Its possible to settle a case in far less than six months and to implement the terms of your divorce settlement well before the six months are up. However, the court wont grant a final divorce decree until six months have passed from the date that your spouse was served.

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Los Angeles Divorce Step : Prepare And File The Judgment Package

The goal during the divorce process is to obtain a judgment from the divorce court. The judgment legally dissolves the marriage and is a court order which resolves all pending issues between the parties. Whether you obtain that judgment on your own or by hiring a divorce lawyer, a proposed Judgment Package of documents must be drafted for submission to the court.

What Happens If My Spouses Disclosure Is Inaccurate

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You will first want to identify the areas in which the disclosure is incomplete or inaccurate. The next step is to ask your spouse to supplement the disclosure and provide the correct and/or missing information. If your spouse still refuses to accurately disclose assets, you have a number of other options, including formal discovery and seeking court orders. Serving discovery is discussed further in Step 8.

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What Do I File To Get Temporary Orders

To obtain temporary orders, you will need to file paperwork requesting orders called a motion. A motion will set a hearing date in front of a judge. This type of hearing is called a short cause hearing because its intended to be no longer than 20 minutes. The paperwork always starts with a form called a Request for Order . This form will give you a list of typical issues brought before the judge, including: child custody, visitation, child support, spousal support, and attorney fees. There is also another catch-all category of other, which allows you to request orders that fall outside of those general issues. You have the option to pick as many issues as you would like to be addressed in front of the judge.

The orders you ask for may require additional documents to be filed with your Request for Order. For example, if youre asking for orders that involve money, you will also have to file another document called an Income and Expense Declaration . For assistance on completing these forms, please watch our video.

Think of your request for orders as a dinner menu. You dont have to order everything on the menu, but once your order is placed, you arent going to get something you didnt ask for. Conversely, you know not to order something you dont want. Its the same concept in filing a motion. Dont ask for child support orders if you dont want or need them. Just because you can doesnt mean you should. Pick what works best for your family.

How Long Does It Take To Get My Judgment Back From The Court

After you submit your proposed Judgment to the court, it can take weeks and even months before your judge is able to review and approve it. Until it is filed, you are technically not done with your case. This waiting period can be extremely frustrating and stressful, since there is little you can do to speed up the process without hiring a private judge. If you choose to hire a private judge, your judge will be able to review and sign off on your judgment must faster than a public judge.

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Make Sure You Have Access To Cash And Credit

This could probably go without saying, but: You will need money during your divorce. While California law limits what you can do in terms of shielding funds from your spouse, there are legal steps you can take to make sure you will have access to the money you need to support your lifestyle and pay your bills.

Property Division In A Marin County Divorce

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Unraveling the debts and assets of a marital estate to reach an equitable distribution in a divorce can be a daunting task. When substantial assets are involved, it is critical that your lawyer has the experience and knowledge to evaluate complex financial matters.

Our attorneys provide detailed legal analysis of California community property laws and advise clients on the options available to resolve a property division dispute. We also possess the financial acuity to recognize improper valuations on many assets, such as deferred stock options.

Contact us online or call 415-789-5881 to schedule an initial consultation. Make sure you get your fair share in your divorce.

The Financial Knowledge And Legal Experience To Safeguard Your Rights

Why is this so important? Identifying assets, finding hidden assets and giving proper attention to the tax implications that each asset may carry are vital in dividing marital property. Tax implications associated with varied assets can also dilute the value of some assets, which can lead to an unfair surprise if your lawyer is not skilled in analyzing the tax code.

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Is There A Faster Way To Get A Divorce In California

The California divorce process allows for a relatively quick and simplified way of getting a divorce. This is done through what is called a summary dissolution of marriage.

In order to qualify for a summary dissolution of marriage, you and your spouse need to meet certain requirements, including:

  • Being married for less than five years
  • Not owning any land or buildings
  • Not renting any land or buildings
  • Having less than $45,000 worth of property during the marriage
  • Not having separate property more than $45,000
  • Not owing more than $6,000 of debts since the marriage
  • Agreeing that neither spouse will get spousal support
  • Agreeing on how to divide your property

The full list of requirements to qualify for a summary dissolution can be found on the California court’s website.

Check That You Qualify Before Starting The Process

A summary dissolution is an easier way to get divorced or end a domestic partnership. Its less expensive and theres not as much paperwork as the standard divorce process.

Not everyone can use this process. In general, its only for couples who:

  • Have been married less than 5 years

  • Have no children together

  • Own or owe relatively little

  • Do not want spousal support

  • Agree on how to split any property

To use the process, all of these must be true. If even one isnt true, you cannot use the summary dissolution process.

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Calculating College Expenses & Child Support In California

The ability to pay for childrens college education is an important consideration for many divorcing parents. Tuition and other costs have spiraled upward over the past few decades and the prospect of handling these bills can be even more imposing once divorce creates two separate households. Some divorcing parents hold misconceptions and make mistaken assumptions that college expenses must be shared. In California, there is no law specifically addressing either custodial or noncustodial parents responsibilities in this area. The costs of college or university education are simply not addressed in child support laws or calculations.

What Are The Basic Steps For Filing For Divorce

California Divorce: A Beginner

While divorce laws vary by state, here are the basic steps:

  • First, you must meet the residency requirements of the state in which you wish to file.
  • Second, you must have grounds to end your marriage.
  • Third, you must file divorce papers and have copies sent to your spouse.
  • Fourth, if your spouse disagrees with anything in the divorce papers, he will then have the opportunity to file papers telling his side. This is called contesting the divorce. In this case, you will have to attend a series of court appearances to sort the issues out. If your spouse does not disagree with anything, he should sign the papers and send them back to you and/or the court. This is called an uncontested divorce. If a certain period of time passes and your spouse does not sign the papers or file any papers of his/her own, you may be able to proceed with the divorce as an uncontested divorce anyway. You should speak to a lawyer in your state about how long you have to wait to see if your spouse answers the divorce papers before you can continue with the divorce.
  • Fifth, if there is property that you need divided, or if you need financial support from your spouse, you will have to work that out in an out-of-court settlement, or in a series of court hearings. Custody may also be decided as part of your divorce.

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What Can Make A Prenup Invalid

A prenup becomes invalid if it does not follow the requirements of the UPAA. For instance, if one spouse signed the prenup under duress without having full knowledge of the assets and debts of their partner, or being forced to sign an agreement without an attorney, the prenup can be deemed invalid. The prenup can also be deemed invalid if a family law judge finds the agreement is unfair.

When a prenup becomes invalid, it is not enforced by the court during a divorce. Your divorce proceedings continue as they would without a prenup.

What Are The Grounds For Divorce Or Legal Separation In California

You can file for divorce or for legal separation in California based on either of the following grounds :

  • Irreconcilable differences, which have caused the permanent breakdown of the marriage or
  • Permanent legal incapacity to make decisions.1 For this ground, there needs to be proof that the spouse was at the time the petition was filed, and still is, lacking the legal capacity to make decisions.2
  • 1 Ann.Cal.Fam.Code. § 2310

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    How Do Prenups Work In California When Are They Not Valid

    Prenuptial agreements are not always a fun topic of conversation with your soon to be spouse. Discussing divorce before you even get married is not ideal as when you look at your fiancee, the last thing you see is your future ex-spouse.

    However, with the current divorce rate in California being above 50%, discussing what happens to your assets in case you do end up divorced should be considered a responsible conversation. It is better to have a financial discussion when you are getting along, rather than during acrimony when feelings are emotional. A prenup can drastically ease your divorce process and save you both a ton of money and time.

    To get the most from a prenup you must understand how they work and what is needed for them to be enforceable.

    Get Legal Advice About Your Prenup

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    Although you and your fiancee are on the same page on how to go about the prenup, it is always advisable to get legal advice from a reliable lawyer. The lawyer will explain all the legal jargon, helping you avoid mistakes. Additionally, you will weigh all the pros and cons together and come up with the best plans for your future.

    If youre in need of legal advice or consultation, please dont hesitate to reach out to us at

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    California Alimony & Spousal Support

    Alimony â sometimes called spousal support â is the money that one spouse is legally required to pay the other following a divorce. Alimony and child support are two separate payments, and one does not affect the other. California divorce guideline determines alimony and child support independently of each other. However, California courts also take into consideration if one parent is unable or less able to seek work outside the home because they have primary responsibility of caring for the children. The alimony payments could be increased in this instance, to compensate for one spouse’s decreased earning ability.

    Requirements To Get A Divorce For Free In Los Angeles

    To be able to get a divorce without a divorce attorney you must meet these requirements:

  • Have an amicable relationship with your spouse.

  • Both sides must mutually agree about asset division and debts, if any.

  • You must also mutually agree on child custody, child support, and alimony.

  • If you don’t meet these requirements, you must likely need to get a divorce lawyer involved.

    Contact a California Bar Certified Lawyer referral service and request a FREE case analysis. Paying a lawyer isn’t something the average person wants to do but dealing with your ex is probably a lot worse. Divorce lawyers are needed when both sides don’t agree on anything, and litigation is needed to protect your rights.

    Sometimes it’s easier to pay a Los Angeles divorce lawyer than dealing with you ex, having said that, here’s how you may get a divorce in California without getting a lawyer involved.

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    Determine Which Procedure To Use

    California has a traditional dissolution of marriage procedure and a summary dissolution of marriage procedure. To qualify for the summary procedure, you must meet the following requirements:

    • You and your spouse agree to the divorce.
    • You do not have children.
    • You were not married for more than five years before separating.
    • You don’t have real estate, and only have a residential lease that expires within one year of filing and does not include a purchase option.
    • There are no debts over $6,000, other than auto loans.
    • Community property has a value of less than $41,000, and each party has no more than $41,000 in separate property, not including autos and encumbrances.
    • You and your spouse have a written agreement dividing the property and debts, and have executed required title transfers.
    • You and your spouse waive your right to spousal support, and rights to appeal and to ask for a new trial.
    • You and your spouse have read a brochure about the summary procedure.

    If any of these requirements are not met, you will need to use the regular procedure.

    Filing Your Divorce Paperwork In Court

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    When you’re ready, go to your local courthouse and ask to file the documents.

    You’ll need to pay a filing fee with the initial paperwork. The fee for a dissolution petition is $435 , but it’s always subject to change. If you can’t afford to pay, you may ask for a fee waiver by filing a Request to Waive Court Fees . Keep in mind that you may be asked to provide detailed financial information to prove to the judge that you qualify for the waiver.

    The court clerk will stamp your documents and return your copies.

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