Online Divorce in California

How to Get a Divorce in California?

Are you looking to get a divorce in California? As you probably already know, this involves going through the divorce process.

What does it involve?

Read on to learn.

Besides valid grounds to get divorced, we will also discuss requirements for an uncontested divorce, which papers you need to prepare and how to file them, as well as other things you need to know when ending your marriage.

California Family Laws

When talking about divorce laws in California, it is important to note that the length of both the county and state residency matters. It has an impact on the divorce process. Proving a reason for a divorce is not required. When you file for divorce, you can cite either an irreparable breakdown of the marriage or irreconcilable differences to get divorced.

Valid Grounds to Get Divorce in California

There is a vast array of reasons for divorce. However, these reasons must be legally acceptable to be regarded as valid grounds by the court. While the legal reasons, i.e. grounds for divorce vary a bit from state to state, some reasons to get divorced are accepted in almost all states.

Generally speaking, those who want to get divorced will have two options:

  • Filing for a no-fault divorce
  • Filing for an at-fault divorce

People who select the first option will be required to prove their marriage has irretrievably broken down. On the other hand, legal reasons for at-fault divorce may include cheating or adultery, bigamy, alcohol or drug addiction, physical or mental abuse, and criminal conviction.

How does it work in California? The state has adopted the no-fault divorce concept. Therefore, California courts only regard an irrevocable breakdown of the marriage as a valid ground to get a divorce. In fact, there are two grounds for filing divorce: insanity and irreconcilable differences.

Requirements for an Uncontested Divorce in California

The following are requirements you need to meet in order to get an uncontested divorce or summary dissolution:

  • Irreconcilable differences must be the ground for your divorce.
  • At least one of the divorcing spouses must live in California for a minimum of 6 months and 3 months in the county where the petition has been filed.
  • Between the separation and marriage, there should be a period not shorter than five years.
  • There mustn’t be any child (or minor children) of marriage; Also, the wife mustn’t be pregnant.
  • The unpaid debts must not be greater than $6,000.
  • Spouses must not have any marital property – except a lease – under 1 year. The shared assets must not be evaluated above $45,000.
  • Neither party seeks alimony.

Divorce Process in California

You need to go through a multi-step process to end your marriage. First things first, you should meet residency requirements to apply for a divorce in California. You must have lived in this state for at least 6 months.

As mentioned earlier, only insanity and irreconcilable differences are considered to be legal reasons for divorce in California. Things like physical or mental abuse, alcohol or drug addiction, criminal conviction, and abandonment are not regarded as grounds for getting divorced.

Preparing the required papers is the next step. In addition, try to get a divorce worksheet. It will make it easier for you to navigate separation. To start the divorce process or legal separation, you should file the Petition (aka decree of dissolution) and fill out a financial statement (financial disclosure).

The last step of the divorce process will come when the judgment of divorce (also called the order of dissolution) is signed by the judge. This legal document actually ends the marriage in California.

Without Children

Even if there are no children of the marriage, the parties will still have a lot of considerations when filing for divorce. They need to consider meeting residency requirements, making copies of important documents, obtaining and filing divorce forms, etc.

Both parties need to show what they own, how much they earn, and what they’re owing to creditors. They will also have to attend court hearings aside from providing additional forms while waiting for the judgment.

With Children

Getting a divorce with children is more complicated because it involves everything from custody and child support to alimony and spousal support.

If there are children of divorce, it is imperative to get them supported throughout the process. That’s where a child support order and temporary alimony (spousal support) come into play. In this case, you might need to complete and file additional documents.

Same-Sex Marriage and Divorce

As for same-sex marriages in California, the gender bias generally doesn’t play a role in getting a divorce. Same-sex divorcing couples have all the rights as heterosexual couples.

To get divorced legally, they also need to cite irreconcilable differences. There are several things to consider when ending a same-sex marriage, including:

  • Debt responsibility
  • Property division
  • Spousal support
  • Child custody and visitation

California Divorce Papers and Forms

Here are some papers you might need to prepare when filing for a divorce in California:

  • Petition for the Dissolution of Marriage
  • Sworn Financial Statement
  • Support Order
  • Parenting Plan
  • Marital Settlement Agreement
  • Decree of Dissolution

It may take you from 7 to 10 days to prepare all of these papers and forms. You can get them either through different online sources or from the court clerk.

While some people draw out the divorce documents on their own to save some money, others hire attorneys to get it done for them. The choice is yours.

How to File Divorce Papers in California

There is a whole bunch of papers and forms to file during the divorce process. With so many documents, you may have a hard time filing divorce papers. Let us break it down in 3 steps.

File your divorce paperwork

Once you’ve prepared the necessary paperwork and made 2 copies of everything, you will need to submit the originals to the court.

Where to start? Well, start by filing the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. Sometimes only one party (petitioner) file the Petition. Other times, both parties file that document jointly. This will initiate the divorce process anyway.

Serve your spouse

After obtaining copies of the divorce documents, the petitioner should consider assembling a packet for his/her spouse. It is supposed to include the summons (must be signed by the court clerk) besides all the papers filed.

NOTE: The court is not capable of creating permanent orders or making judgments until the divorce documents have been served to the other party.

Financial Disclosures

Lastly, you need to prepare and exchange financial disclosures to get a judge grant your divorce. Some couples face wilful or negligent omissions of their debts and marital property when filing preliminary financial disclosures.

If one of the spouses refuses to disclose all debts and/or assets, the other party may lose out on his/her share. Sometimes it results in court punishments.

How to Serve Divorce Papers in California

You will have a variety of options when choosing a person (referred to as a process server) to serve your divorce documents in California. It can be a professional process server, county sheriff, relative, friend, or coworker. The process server must not be involved in your divorce case. Moreover, she or he must be 18 years of age or older.

If you don’t want to use a process server, you can serve your divorce documents by means of:

  • Substituted service
  • Mail
  • Service by publication, or
  • Service by posting

How to Get a Divorce in California Without a Lawyer

A lawyer is not always necessary when it comes to divorces. This is especially true for straightforward situations. However, if there are any debts and/or assets from your marriage, you will have a tough time ending your marriage without an attorney.

Even so, you can hire an attorney to address only the property concerns associated with your divorce case. You will need to obtain and file divorce documents on your own, which takes a lot of time and effort.

Completing a divorce online has a lot of benefits. By filing your divorce papers this way, you can ease stress. This will also save you time and money (sometimes thousands of dollars), as there are no costly lawyers’ fees. You will need to do it all by yourself, but it’s not rocket science.

It’s quite easy to file divorce documents online. All you need to do is complete an online interview and file certain forms. The divorce documents are customized for relevant factors like assets, income, and country of residence.

California Divorce Common Questions

How Is Property Divided in a Divorce in California?

California is one of the community property states, meaning the properties owned by divorcing couples are equally divided.

How Much Does a Divorce Cost in California?

It depends on an array of factors. The minimum cost of divorce is a couple thousand dollars in the event of simple processes. To get a complicated divorce, which involves child custody, could cost up to $38,000.

If you use online divorce services, you will have to fork out from $150 to $500 besides the filing fee. Those who decide to hire a lawyer pay from $13,000 to $17,500 for attorney’s fees.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Divorce in California?

Once you’ve filed the divorce petition, you’ll be waiting at least 6 months to get a divorce in California. In California, it takes an average of 8 months to get an uncontested divorce. Some divorce cases may take more than 18 months with disputes.

It depends on numerous factors, including marital estate and assets, the length of the marriage, whether there are children involved or not, etc. Family matters like domestic disputes and property division can delay proceedings.

How Can I Get a Copy of My Divorce in California?

You will have to go to the local courthouse, i.e. the California court where your divorce case has been filed, to obtain copies of your divorce papers. Alternatively, you can contact the court and ask for a copy of your divorce by sending a request via email.

What Is the Divorce Rate in California?

According to the US Census Bureau, the divorce rate in Californa is 6.5%.

Do My Spouse and I Need to Live in California to Get a Divorce?

At least one spouse must live in California for a minimum of 6 months prior to filing the petition in order to end the marriage.

Can I Still Get a Divorce if I Can’t Locate My Spouse?

Yes, you will be able to get divorced if you cannot find your spouse no matter the reason for his/her absence. However, this will require posting a notice in the courthouse or publishing a notice of the divorce to serve divorce papers.

Do My Spouse and I Need to Live in the Same County to Get a Divorce?

You must live in the county where the petition has been filed for a minimum of 3 months in order to get a divorce.

Can I Still Get a Divorce if My Spouse Doesn’t Want to Get One?

In California, it is possible to get divorced even if one of the spouses doesn’t want to end the marriage. The court will grant a dissolution of marriage if one of the parties cites irreconcilable differences as a justification for the divorce.

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