A divorce generally begins in California when one party files a divorce petition in the court. There is a filing fee, but if one cannot afford it, one can apply for a waiver.
California is a no-fault state, which means one does not have to prove your spouse did anything wrong. You can get a divorce even if your spouse does not want one.
There are some steps you must take and requirements you must meet.
Steps for Getting a Divorce in California
Residency requirements. To file a petition for divorce, you or your spouse must have lived in the state for at least six months, and one of you must have lived in the county where you file the petition for at least three of those six months immediately prior to the filing of the petition.
Filing and serving the petition. Once you file your divorce petition, you have to have your spouse personally served with papers. This is the official way to let your spouse know that you have filed a divorce petition. Another way of serving your spouse with divorce petition is to have your spouse sign a Notice and Acknowledgement of Receipt acknowledging the receipt of divorce documents. This not only avoids incurring a cost for process service but also eliminates the unpleasantness of being served in person with divorce documents.
Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure. Whether or not you are divorcing through traditional litigation or going through divorce mediation, you will each be required to serve the other party with what is called a Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure (information about your financial assets). California is a community property state, which means that all assets the two of you accumulated during your marriage belong equally to both of you. Locating and sharing all financial information is important so that you can both be informed and work towards an equitable division of the assets.
Settlement Agreement and Parenting Plan. You will work together to come to a settlement agreement which will include the division of assets, child support, and spousal support.
A parenting plan will provide details of how you and your spouse plan on parenting together and include which home is the children’s primary residence, who has decision-making authority, and more.
If there are any issues you cannot agree on, the court will schedule a hearing, evaluate evidence from both of you, and make the final decision for you. In divorce mediation, you and your spouse can work out the details of a settlement without court intervention.
Submit final paperwork. If you come to an agreement without court intervention, you can submit your final agreement to the court for its approval. When the court approves it, the agreement becomes the court’s order aka your divorce decree.
How long does it take? By law, the earliest a divorce can be final is six months after the divorce petition has been served on the other spouse. It often takes much longer than that depending on potential complications which could involve children and financial assets.
Contact Us for Assistance with Your Divorce
No matter where you are in the divorce process, at Kim Mediation and Law Center, we can help you find your way to a peaceful divorce. Contact us to schedule a consultation.