How to File for Divorce in California

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    When California residents marry, divorce is probably not part of the plan. Unfortunately, as people grow, they may find their marriage is unsustainable. However, there is some good news: not every divorce needs to be complicated. In uncontested cases, you may not even need an attorney to handle the paperwork. Each state has its own version of divorce forms which you can obtain from the state court website or courthouse. California’s divorce documents can be found here. If you need assistance ensuring you’re filing the correct paperwork, an LDA may be of assistance.

    Steps to File for Divorce

    Before you file for divorce, you must meet certain requirements. According to Forbes these may include residency requirements, a waiting period, and grounds for divorce. In California, you must live in your current county for the past three months and you must undergo a six-month waiting period for finalization. California does not require a reason for divorce, but if you elect to cite grounds, then you must show sufficient evidence.

    Once you fulfill the requirements for California, you can begin to file for divorce by filing a Petition. The Petition will ask for basic information about the marriage and about specific orders you want the court to make regarding custody, alimony, or other important aspects of divorce.

    You and the court will also send a Summons to inform your spouse that you have started the process, giving them 30 days to respond. If you have minor children, you will need a Declaration Under Uniform Child Custody form. This form will inform the court where the children live and were born and if any other cases involve them. Once complete, you should copy all documents for safe keeping before moving on to the next step.

    Once your spouse responds, make a copy of the document and file it with your local law clerk. The court will then use your financial information like income, spending habits, and savings to divide assets between the divorcing couple.

    Finalizing the Divorce

    Once you have completed the steps to file for divorce, the court will finalize it after the waiting period is over. You and your ex will decide how you would like to split property and debts. If the two cannot come to an agreement on their own, they may ask the court to decide how it should be split. Once you reach an agreement, the court will distribute official documentation of the decision. The court will collect all relevant paperwork pertaining to your divorce and submit them to the judge for review. The judge will approve the documents with their signature, and the divorce becomes final.