Divorce can be a long process. And each state has different requirements you need to make to make it official. 

In this article we’ll look at how to file for a divorce in California. You’ll get an overall summary of the steps you’ll need to go through and requirements that must be met.  

How To File For a Divorce In California

Before you can even file for a divorce in California, there are a few requirements you have to meet. 

First, you have to be a resident of California for at least 6 months. In addition, there is another residency requirement. And that is you have to have lived in the county you file for divorce in for at least 3 months.  

The state of California does not require a separation period before filing for a divorce. However, the state does have a mandatory six-month waiting period between filing for a divorce and the court finalizing the divorce. 

Also good to know is that California is a no-fault divorce state. This means the state does not require you to show any wrongdoing by your spouse in order to get a divorce. 

There are 2 ways of getting a divorce in California. You may get a divorce if you and your spouse have irreconcilable differences. Or if one of the spouses is found to have incurable insanity. 

Steps For Getting a Divorce in CA

Filling out your Forms

Before you can file your divorce, you must have at least these forms:

  • Summons
  • Petition
  • Child custody and visitation application

A divorce attorney can help in making sure that your forms are accurate. 

Filing your forms

After you sorted out all the required forms, the next step is to file them to the local county clerk. A temporary court order can be issued to sort of certain additional forms such as:

  • Child support
  • Spousal support
  • Bill payments
  • Order for Protection against domestic violence

Serving your spouse

Serving your spouse is the act of informing your spouse that you will file for a divorce. There are various ways of serving your spouse’s divorce papers. In California, you can serve your spouse through:

  • Mail service
  • County sheriff service
  • Personal service (friend or relative over 18 years old)

You can also serve your spouse through certified mail if they are not from California. You will have to request a return receipt.

If a person serves your spouse, the must file a proof of service.

Wait for a response.

Your spouse must respond to your service of divorce papers within 30 days. After those 30 days your divorce case may continue if your spouse does not respond. 

Your spouse may also file a response but still has a written agreement with you on the terms of the divorce. Your spouse can also disagree with what you request.

Financial disclosure

In California, you and your spouse must exchange written forms regarding property and debts. This must happen within 60 days or 2 months after filing for a divorce petition. 

You and your spouse can do this through mail or someone else’s service. 

Finalize your divorce

If the divorce is uncontested, you can just fill out an agreement with your spouse. 

If it is contested, either you can try mediation or the judge may set a trial date wherein the judge will decide on the divorce terms.

An Overview of The Process

To get an more general overview of this process, check out our general article on How To File For Divorce.

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