In the state of California, you and your former spouse must go through a series of processes in order to successfully file for a divorce. From start to finish, the divorce process in the Golden State can take at least six months – even if both parties agree to the dissolution immediately. This length of time is due to California’s divorce requirements and mandatory six-month waiting period. Contact a San Jose divorce attorney for more information.
Step #1: Understand the Residency Requirements
Before you can file for divorce in California, you will need to verify that you and your spouse are eligible to do so. To get a divorce in California, either you or your spouse will need to meet the following requirements.
- You or your spouse must have been a California resident for at least six months prior to the divorce.
- You or your spouse must have lived in the county where you plan to file for divorce for at least three months.
Many states require you to satisfy certain grounds for divorce in order to file. California is not one of these states, since it follows a no-fault divorce system. You do not need to prove any wrongdoing by your spouse to get a divorce, even if he or she does not agree with the proceedings.
Step #2: File Necessary Paperwork
When you decide to file for divorce, contact a California family lawyer to assist you with the required paperwork. You cannot file for divorce unless you submit a Form FL-100, Petition for Dissolution, and a Form FL-110, Summons, with the court in your jurisdiction. If you and your spouse have children together, you may need to file additional paperwork.
After you file your divorce papers, you must officially serve your spouse with the paperwork. You can do it yourself, or you can have another adult aged 18 years or older do it for you. The person who is servings your spouse with the paperwork will need to file a Form FL-115, Proof of Service of Summons.
Your spouse will need to file a response to the papers within 30 days. If your spouse does not respond, the court may issue a default judgement. The court officially files your divorce once you serve your spouse, he or she responds, or either of you file an Appearance, Stipulation and Waiver.
Step #3: Enter the Waiting Period
After the court officially files your divorce paperwork, you will enter into California’s mandatory six-month waiting period. The purpose of the waiting period is to allow divorcing couples a time to resolve their conflict and potentially reconcile as a couple, ending the divorce. If you and your spouse both agree to the divorce, you will still need to wait for the six-month period to end in order for the court to finalize your divorce.
The court may issue a judgment for your divorce case before the end of the six-month period, but it is important to remember that this judgement is not a verification of the termination of your marriage. You and your spouse will remain legally married until the day after the waiting period ends.
Step #4: Receive a Judgment and Termination
While you are waiting for the waiting period to end, you and your spouse may enter into processes to finalize the terms of your divorce. The court will issue a judgement which will outline division of assets, custody agreements, and other terms. You can receive a judgement through one of three processes.
- If your spouse does not respond to your divorce petition, the court may issue a default judgement.
- If you and your spouse agree on all terms of the divorce during negotiation, you can finalize your divorce through a written agreement.
- If you and your spouse do not agree on the terms of your divorce agreement, the court will issue a judgement at the end of a trial.
If you are attempting to file for divorce in California, beginning the process without legal representation can lead to longer proceedings down the line. Hiring an attorney can help you file paperwork error-free, navigate negotiations, and prepare for trial. As soon as you decide to file for divorce in California, contact your attorney to discuss your next steps.