Judge giving decision on marriage

How can I file for a divorce in California?

How Can I File for a Divorce in California?

Divorce is a very challenging prospect for anyone. Legal challenges here are accompanied by emotional stress and anxiety. Things could get even worse if there are secondary issues such as child custody and support or property division.

However, with the right set of legal guidance and skills, anyone can get through this difficult period and get the result they want.

In the US, filing and obtaining a divorce differs from state to state, although there are some commonalities. In California, divorce is more accurately defined as the dissolution of a marriage.

This blog article will discuss the reasons for obtaining a divorce, the types of divorce, and the procedure for filing for divorce in California. But it is worth mentioning that it never hurts to know more, but it is best to entrust your matter to an experienced divorce lawyer from the beginning.

Now, let’s take a look at the reasons for filing for divorce in the state.

Reasons to file for divorce in California

Before California simplified divorce and became the first state in the country to allow a “no-fault divorce” status, divorce in the US was only possible when the other spouse proved the fault of a specific spouse.

‘No-fault’ divorce basically means that the parties to a divorce do not need to prove any fault of the other to obtain a successful marriage dissolution order. In legal terms, there does not need to be any proof of fault on either party in order to get a divorce.

The California Family Law Act of 1969 made the state the first in the US to grant parties a ‘no-fault divorce’. Soon, all other states followed suit.

The same Law has established two simple reasons for which a divorce can be obtained in California:

  • Irreconcilable differences

Differences that have caused the total breakdown of the marriage; and

  • Permanent Legal Disability

When one of the spouses becomes incapable of making decisions.

How can I file for a divorce in California?

Types of divorce in California

It is best to know the types of divorce that the state of California allows. It will help you prepare your case and be aware of your legal situation before consulting with a California divorce attorney.

  • no-fault divorce

As discussed above, no-fault divorce basically means that neither spouse has to prove the fault of the other to obtain a divorce. California was the first state to enact this law.

The spouse filing for divorce only needs to prove irreconcilable differences, meaning that the marriage is not working in any way.

  • Contested divorce

Contested divorce is the adversarial form of divorce. This happens when there is a conflict between the spouses and they both disagree on the points of the divorce.

This is a complicated form of divorce where things can turn sour between the parties. When the parties cannot agree on the points of the divorce, it can lead to a full-fledged trial in which the judge has the discretion to decide the matter.

  • divorce by mutual agreement

Exactly the opposite of a contested divorce; An uncontested divorce is when both parties agree on everything. These agreements include child support and custody issues, visitation rights, division of assets, and other issues.

These divorces mostly do not go to trial and are resolved more amicably. Both spouses are on the same page. Although it is still advisable to hire an attorney to ensure that you are getting your fair share of rights in this, it is not required.

  • summary dissolution

Summary Dissolution is a simplified divorce that is a great way to resolve the end of marriages in the short term.

First, California residency requirements must be met. Residency requirements state that one spouse must be a California resident for at least six months before filing the petition. Additionally, they must be residents of the county where the petition is filed at least three months prior to filing.

Second, both spouses must cite irreconcilable differences as grounds for divorce.

Thirdly, there should be no children born out of wedlock, nor should the female spouse be pregnant during these periods.

Fourth, the marriage must last less than five years.

Summary dissolution also restricts the amount of debt and community property you jointly own. It also states that both spouses must waive their rights to support filing for a summary dissolution.

In summary dissolution, spouses represent themselves in court, although they can always consult a divorce attorney.

  • collaborative divorce

A collaborative divorce is also an uncontested form of divorce. Both parties must sign a participation agreement, while their lawyers can draft the final agreement once things are resolved between the spouses.

Lawyers under this must be specialists in collaborative divorce and must aim to resolve matters amicably between the parties.

One point to remember here is that your collaborative divorce attorneys cannot represent you in court. If the collaborative process fails, you should hire divorce trial attorneys to take the case further for you.

  • mediated divorce

A common type of divorce is a mediated divorce. Both parties work with an external facilitator to resolve differences. The moderator assists the parties in drafting agreements and points of dispute.

A common divorce strategy is mediation. In these types of divorce cases, the two parties work together with an outside facilitator to resolve any differences outside of court. The moderator helps spouses resolve conflicts and disagreements.

Mediation often establishes child custody, handles property division, creates parenting plans, and determines support. This is a voluntary, non-binding process, and both parties must agree to the terms.

The mediator drafts the agreement for parenting plans, child support and custody, spousal support, and other family law disputes between spouses.

What is the divorce filing process in California?

The petitioner must provide or serve the other spouse with paper copies of the divorce, including the summons.

The respondent, that is, the other spouse, must file a response form within 30 days of service. In the event that the defendant spouse does not file an answer, he or she will be prohibited from bringing any claim in the divorce proceedings and filing any petition with the court for the same.

As noted above, California has residency requirements that both spouses must meet prior to the dissolution of the marriage.

If children are involved in the divorce process, the parties must complete a declaration form. Even without a divorce attorney, you can access the California Self-Help Guides, which contain links to all the necessary documentation and steps to take.

Once both parties have filed their motion and responses, the court will require them to file declarations and disclosures forms. The Statement for Disclosures includes Statements of Income and Expenses (Form FL 150) and a List of Assets and Debts (Form FL 142).

Once the filing of the petition is complete, the matter will be referred to a Family Resolution Conference (FRC) for consultation with the parties. The FRC judge will ask the parties about the status of the statements. The judge will also try to put the parties on the same line to resolve their divorce process.

Divorce is complex. Yours doesn’t have to be

Divorce is emotionally draining and it is highly recommended that you get an attorney who can guide you and, if necessary, represent you in court.

Contact Dolores López if you are considering divorce. Dolores López is a certified family law attorney in San Diego, Los Angeles and Riverside counties.

She can help you with your case, regardless of the situation. Don’t leave your rights to chance. Call (714) 733-7065 for legal guidance and representation.