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California is a no-fault state, which means that as long as one spouse cites “irreconcilable differences,” there are grounds for divorce. Under California law, at least one spouse must have resided in the state for at least six months prior to filing for divorce. In order to file a divorce, legal separation or annulment petition in a county, the petitioner must have resided in that county for at least three months prior to filing. The minimum amount of time necessary to complete a divorce in California is six months and one day. A divorce, legal separation or annulment proceedings in California begins with the submission of a completed Petition for Dissolution, Legal Separation or Annulment of Marriage.  You must provide the following documents:

  1.  Summons

  2. Declaration of Disclosure

  3. Declaration Regarding Service of Declaration of Disclosure and Income and Expense Declaration

  4. Petition

  5. Income and Expense Declaration

  6. Property Declaration

  7. Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act – if required

  8. Child Support Case Registry – if required

  9. Waiver of Court Fees – if applicable




If you and your spouse can agree to an amicable settlement before or during the divorce procedure, you can avoid many of the costly aspects of a divorce.  It may take some negotiation, patience, and sacrifice, but, ultimately it is in the best interests of you, your spouse and any children if you can avoid a long and contentious legal battle.  A written, signed agreement with your spouse will help you sidestep any expensive legal proceedings, and you may be able to conclude the divorce without an attorney.




In cases where spouses cannot agree on major issues, the judge will set a trial date.  This trial may last several months to years.




Under California law, all community property – which is property pooled by both spouses during the marriage – must be divided equally.  Separate property which belongs wholly to one spouse may have been acquired in the following ways:

  1. Owned prior to marriage

  2. Acquired through a gift or inheritance

  3. Obtained following a separation but prior to divorce

  4. Designated as separate through a prenuptial agreement




As in most states, California determines child custody based on the best interests of the children.




Spousal support or alimony in California is dependent upon a number of factors.  Alimony may be in the form of temporary, permanent or both.  Temporary alimony is payments made during the divorce procedure, while permanent continues following the divorce.  The length of permanent alimony is usually dependent upon the length of the marriage.  In most cases, payments are required for only about half the time the couple was married.

The judge is the only person who can approve and determine if spousal support or alimony will be granted, unless the parties have made an amicable written agreement during the divorce procedure.




Exactly six months and one day following the date when you served your spouse is when you will be issued the Final Judgment Divorce Decree date.

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