The Divorce Process

In order to file for divorce in the state of California, you must meet the following residency requirements:

  • You must have been a resident of California for at least six months.
  • You must have been a resident of the county that you are filing in for at least three months.

For example, if you recently relocated to Riverside and you are hoping to file for divorce in California Superior Court, County of Riverside, you will have to establish residency here for the designated period of time, three months.

Once you file your divorce paperwork, you are required by law to wait six months before the divorce becomes final.

California was the first U.S. state to allow a "no-fault divorce." This means that a court can grant the dissolution of a marriage if it finds that the marriage has irrevocably broken down due to irreconcilable differences. Also, one spouse can end the marriage even if the other spouse does not wish to.

A "no-contest" divorce is where both parties agree about all of the terms of their divorce. A "contested" divorce is where both parties cannot agree over at least one issue, and the court must intervene to resolve the dispute.

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The petition to dissolve the marriage is filed by one spouse and served to the other spouse (known as the Respondent).
The Respondent has 30 days to reply.
One of the parties may file an Order to Show Cause hearing where the judge may make temporary child custody or support terms. The judge may even issue a restraining order against one of the spouses.
The discovery process: Both parties exchange documents and information, including the disclosure of income, expenses, and assets. Written questions and depositions may also be given at this time.
Both parties discuss the settlement terms. If an agreement is reached, a Marital Settlement Agreement will be filed and signed by the spouses and their lawyers. If an agreement can't be reached, the case goes to trial.
After signing the agreement or once the trial has ended, one of the divorce lawyers will prepare and file a Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage.