Advocate Legal Centers

Divorce Support and Facts

 We provided this  divorce support and facts so that you have some knowledge about dissolution/divorce proceedings in California. The following divorce support and facts is provided for you  if you choose to file for a divorce/dissolution without the intervention of an attorney.  We can provide you divorce support and facts when meeting with you and then assisting you with the preparation of your paper work. Divorce/Dissolution paper forms and the additional paperwork can be a daunting and arduous task if you are trying to complete it on your own.  Another way we  offer divorce support, is by offering you the option of  filing your proceedings for you,  in order for you to save  time and not have to deal with the long lines at the court. Divorce in California is called a Dissolution of Marriage, for same sex marriages or domestic partners it is called a Dissolution of Domestic Partnership.

California residency requirements for divorce/dissolution You must meet California’s residency requirements. Either you or your spouse must have lived in California for the last 6 months, and the county where you plan to file the divorce for the last 3 months.  If you and your spouse have lived in California for at least 6 months but in different counties for at least 3 months, you can file in either county. If you do not meet the residency requirement, you can still file for a legal separation. Once enough time has passed so that you meet the residency requirement for a divorce, you may file an “amended petition” and ask the court for a divorce.  

EXCEPTION: Same-sex married couples who got married in California but do not live in California and live in a state (or states) that will not dissolve a same-sex marriage can file to end their same-sex marriage in California, regardless of these residency requirements. You must file in whichever county you were married. Keep in mind that if neither of you lives in California, the court may not be able to make orders about other issues like property and debt, partner support, or your children. There are 3 main ways  or options to end a marriage or registered domestic partnership in California

Divorce, legal separation, and annulment.  It is not necessary for both spouses and/or domestic partners to agree to end the marriage. Either spouse or partner can decide to end the marriage, and the other spouse/partner, even if he or she does not want to get a divorce, cannot stop the process by refusing to participate in the case. If a spouse or domestic partner does not participate in the divorce case, the other spouse/partner will still be able to get a “default” judgment and the divorce will go through. California is a “no fault” divorce state, which means that the spouse or domestic partner that is asking for the divorce does not have to prove that the other spouse or domestic partner did something wrong.  To get a no fault divorce, 1 spouse or domestic partner has to state that the couple cannot get along. Legally, this is called “irreconcilable differences.” After you decide how you want to end your marriage or domestic partnership, you need to plan your case ahead of time. Think about how you are going to handle your case. Planning before you start and talking to a lawyer can save you time and money as you go through the court process. And keep in mind that, normally, it does not matter who is the first to file the divorce or separation case. The court does not give any preference to the first person to file or a disadvantage to the person the only thing the court is interested in is helping the separating spouses or partners reach a fair agreement about how their life will be restructured after the divorce so they can move ahead to rebuild their lives. When you start a divorce case, if you cannot come to an agreement with your spouse/partner you can ask the judge to make orders about: Custody and visitation; Child support; Spousal or partner support; The division of your property; and Who will be responsible for paying debts.

 DOMESTIC PARTNERSHIP If you want to end a registered domestic partnership, domestic partners must also file for dissolution (divorce), legal separation, or annulment to end their relationship.  There is a limited exception where domestic partners can end their relationship in a summary process through the Secretary of State if they have been registered for less than five years and they have no children, no real property, very few assets or debts, and a written agreement on dividing their property, in addition to other restrictions. Federal law does not recognize domestic partnerships for most purposes, such as Medicare, immigration law, veterans’ benefits, and federal tax laws. Domestic partners may be recognized for some federal purposes, such as Social Security. In addition, domestic partners may not have the same rights if they leave California because other states may not recognize domestic partnerships.  Talk to a lawyer if you are ending a domestic partnership and any of these issues may apply to you. You may also want to talk to an accountant who is knowledgeable about these issues.

Some additional Divorce Support and Facts are grounds for divorce in California? In California, there are two grounds for divorce (also known as dissolution): 

Some additional Divorce Support and Facts,  You or your spouse must have lived in California for six months and in your county for three months before filing a petition to dissolve your marriage. There is no residency requirement for filing for legal separation Can I get a legal separation or an annulment instead of a divorce? You can get a legal separation or an annulment (also called a nullity) without having lived in California for six months or your county for three months before filing.

Is there a simplified process for getting a divorce? Yes. California has a process called summary dissolution. If you qualify for a summary dissolution, you will have less paperwork to file and you will not have to appear in court. You may be eligible for such a process if you and your spouse have agreed in writing to a division of your assets and debts and if the following conditions exist: You and your spouse:

A marriage is NEVER legally valid and you can request a nullity of marriage, when it is:

Other marriages and partnerships can be declared invalid because of:

These are short explanations of the reasons for an annulment. Each of these reasons has important details you have to prove to get a court to give you an annulment. 

EFFECTS OF AN ANNULMENT Since an annulment means your marriage or domestic partnership was never valid, you may not have other rights and obligations that couples who file for divorce or legal separation do. Rights and obligations relating to the children If you and your spouse or domestic partner have children together and you get an annulment, the legal presumption that children born during a marriage or domestic partnership are children of the couple also does not exist. This means that, if you get an annulment, you must also ask the judge to establish parentage (paternity) for any children you have in common with the other party. Rights and obligations relating to property and debt When you claim that a marriage or domestic partnership is not legally valid, you are also saying that the legal rights and duties of community property laws in California do not apply. This means that you and the other party cannot rely on community property laws to divide any property or debt that you accumulated while you were married or in a domestic partnership. It also means that you would not have the right to spousal or partner support, or other benefits like the right to a portion of the other person’s pension or retirement benefits. BUT there is an exception: Someone in an invalid marriage or domestic partnership may have “putative” spouse or domestic partner status. This means that they may have the right to community property, support, and other property-related benefits. To prove you have “putative” spouse or partner status can be complicated. You will have to prove that you had a good faith belief that the marriage or domestic partnership was legal under California law. This is  information provided on this page regarding DIVORCE in California is directly sourced from the California Courts Judical Branch of California  and the