Asian Americans Advancing Justice - LA

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Divorce in California

There are many myths surrounding the process of getting divorced. With half of all marriages ending in divorce, it is important to know the truth about the process, and to understand your rights during a divorce. A divorce legally ends your marriage.  A divorce can also help you deal with many issues including: child custody, child visitation, child support, spousal support and dividing property and debts. To get divorced in California, you must follow some important, state-specific rules.

Who can get divorced in CA? You don’t need to have wed in California to get divorced in this state. You can get a divorce in California even if you were legally married in another state or another country.

Residency requirements: Even if you didn’t get married in California, you need to make sure that you meet certain “residency requirements” to get divorced in the state California has a “residency requirement” and so do different counties in California. For the California requirement, if you or your spouse has lived in California for at least six months, you can file for a divorce in California.  Because some counties also have a “residency requirement” you need to make sure you also follow those requirements as well.  For example, if you want to file a divorce in Los Angeles County, you or your spouse must have lived in Los Angeles County for three months before you can file.

Mutual consent is NOT required. Your spouse does not need to agree to the divorce. You can still get a divorce as long as you file the correct paperwork and follow the proper procedures.

You don’t need a special reason for getting divorced. You can get a divorce for the simple reason you and your spouse don’t get along.  If this is the reason, there is an option on the divorce forms called, “irreconcilable differences” that means you and your spouse cannot work things out, and because of that the marriage cannot continue.

It will likely take longer than six months to finalize your divorce. You may have heard that it takes only six months to get divorced, but this is not true for everyone. The reason you have heard this is because the law says that the earliest date your divorce can be final is 6 months plus 1 day from the date of service.  The date of service is the date your spouse legally received copies of the divorce papers you filed.

For example:  You file for divorce on January 1, 2007.  Your husband legally receives copies of the paperwork on January 2, 2007 (this is the “date of service”).  The soonest your divorce can be final is July 3, 2007 (six months plus 1 day after the “date of service”).

If your case is very simple and all of the paperwork is completed before six months and 1 day from the “date of service”, you have to wait until the six month and 1 day date to get a final divorce judgment.  For most people, a divorce case will take longer than six months because people do not agree on all of the issues, and spouses are not able to file all of the necessary paperwork to finish a divorce quickly.  For that reason, the “six month” rule only matters for people who can finish their divorce very quickly.  For most people, their case will not finish until many months or years after this “six month” period.


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