What Are the Requirements for Divorce in California?

What Are the Requirements for Divorce in California?

No matter the reason for a divorce, it’s rarely an easy process. Understanding the requirements for divorce and the associated legal procedures and costs can help you navigate this difficult time and accelerate the process.

You don’t have to go through this process alone. An experienced, knowledgeable, and compassionate Pasadena divorce attorney who understands the ins and outs of California divorce law can help you through your divorce.

What Are the Grounds for Divorce in California?

California is a no-fault divorce state, essentially meaning neither spouse needs to prove the guilt or fault of the other spouse to file for divorce. This also means both spouses don’t have to agree to a divorce. One spouse can file without the consent of the other party, and if the other spouse doesn’t participate in the proceedings, the court will grant a divorce by default. So long as one party can prove there are irreconcilable differences between the two parties, the marriage will be dissolved.

California is a no-fault state with only two grounds for divorce:

  • Irreconcilable differences which have caused the irremediable breakdown of the marriage
  • Incurable insanity

The most common reason for divorce in California is irreconcilable differences. This is a broad term, and it encompasses financial, parenting, and emotional conflicts. Irreconcilable differences mean the marriage has broken down to the point that it can’t be repaired or one or both parties don’t want to repair it. Essentially, irreconcilable differences include any conflict severe enough that one or both spouses no longer wish to be married.

Divorcing on the grounds of incurable insanity is less common. It requires medical testimony and documentation that one spouse was declared insane at the time the petition for divorce was filed and that their insanity is indefinite.

What Are the Residency Requirements for Divorce in California?

To get a divorce in the state of California, you must meet the residency requirements. Either you or your spouse must have lived in California for six months and in the county where the divorce is going to be filed for three months prior to the filing for divorce. A couple doesn’t need to live together to divorce in California. If both parties have lived in different counties for at least three months, they may file for divorce in either county. If these minimum residency requirements have not yet been met, the court will reject the petition to divorce.

If neither spouse has lived in California for six months, it may be possible to seek a divorce in another state if those residency requirements are met.

Legal separation is another option for couples that don’t meet the minimum residency requirements to file for divorce, as legal separation has no residency requirements. A legal separation gives similar essential protections as a divorce for those who can’t yet get a divorce in California.

What Are the Basic Steps for Divorce in California?

Every divorce is unique, but the following are the basic steps for divorce in California:

  1. Meet the legal requirements. The couple must meet California’s minimum residency requirements and prove they have irreconcilable differences.
  2.  File the divorce petition. The petitioner files the divorce petition and pays the associated filing fee. The other spouse must be served the divorce papers. This can be done by a professional server or an adult friend or relative, but it cannot be done by the petitioner. After serving the other spouse the divorce papers, they have 30 days to respond and serve those papers to the petitioners.
  3. Financial disclosures. Each spouse must give the other detailed information about their income, expenses, assets, and debts. This information doesn’t need to be submitted to the court, but each spouse must confirm the disclosure was received.
  4. Come to an agreement. The couple must work out an agreement on child custody, child support, spousal support, and the division of marital assets and debts. This agreement is called a marital settlement agreement. There are a few different options for coming to an agreement, depending on your situation, including negotiation, mediation, and litigation.
  5. Get a final judgment. Once a marital settlement agreement is reached, a judge will review your divorce paperwork, and if the couple negotiated the agreement themselves, review the final plan and issue a final divorce judgment.


Q: How Long Do You Have to Be Separated Before a Divorce in California?

A: There’s no requirement for separation before divorce in California. However, there is a six-month waiting period from when the petition to divorce is filed to when the marriage can be dissolved.

Q: How Long Does It Take to Get Legally Divorced in California?

A: It takes a minimum of six months to get a divorce in California, as there is a six-month waiting period for divorce. A divorce will not be granted until six months after filing the petition to divorce.

Every situation is different, and the process of divorce can often take longer than six months. Sometimes this is due to a backlog in the courts, but disputes over child custody, child support, and division of marital assets can extend the process as well. It may take six months or less to come to an agreement, and the divorce will be granted at the end of the six-month waiting period. However, if it takes longer than six months for the couple to come to an agreement, the process of divorce can be extended for months or even years.

Q: How Much Does It Cost to File for Divorce in California?

A: The minimum cost of divorce is the $435 filing fee. However, most divorces cost much more than that. The average cost of divorce in California is around $17,500 without children and around $26,300 with children.

Q: What is the Difference Between Divorce and Legal Separation?

A: Divorce ends a marriage and allows other parties to marry again. Legal separation allows couples to live apart and make separate financial and parenting decisions while remaining married.

Our Pasadena divorce attorneys can help you understand the requirements for divorce and navigate the following legal processes and procedures. We understand every situation is unique and have decades of experience to draw on. The attorneys at Khalaf Law Group have a wealth of experience and knowledge surrounding divorce requirements and can help you decide what’s the best approach for your divorce. Contact us today.

About Ted Khalaf

As you maneuver the difficult process of divorce and custody, it is essential that you are supported by a team of legal experts well versed in California specific Divorce and Family Law. For well over a decade, Khalaf Law Group have been serving clients across Southern California in all areas of Divorce and Family Law. With an exceptional track record of courtroom successes, Khalaf Law Group take great pride in providing their valued clients with the knowledge and information they require to maintain peace of mind and a positive outcome in their case.

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