California was the first state to implement the "no-fault divorce" concept. This means neither spouse has to accuse the other of marital misconduct; if the marriage has broken down due to irreconcilable differences, the couple can get a divorce.
This article answers some frequently asked questions about divorce (legally referred to as "dissolution of marriage") in California.
California was the first state to adopt the "no-fault divorce" concept. In California, a dissolution of marriage can be granted if the court finds that "irreconcilable differences" have caused an irrevocable breakdown of the marriage. In effect, this simply means that a married person who wants to end the marriage can do so, even if the other spouse wants to stay together.
Yes. To get a divorce in California, at least one of the spouses has to have been a resident of the state for at least six months before filing the divorce petition. You must also live in the county where you file the divorce petition for at least three months before filing.
Once you file the divorce petition and serve it on your spouse, you will have to wait at least six months for your divorce to be finalized.
If you have been married for less than five years, have no children, don't own real estate, and have relatively limited property and debts, you may qualify for a summary dissolution. This is a simpler process, which generally doesn't require an appearance before a judge. You and your spouse must create an agreement about how you will divide your property and debts, and file it -- along with a joint divorce petition and other required forms -- with the court. Although you still have to wait six months before your divorce becomes final, you don't have to go through a lot of the procedures and appearances required for a regular divorce. You can find more information on summary dissolution in California in, "California Summary Dissolution: The Simple Divorce".
If you don't qualify for a summary dissolution, a typical dissolution of marriage requires the following steps:
For more on your options to proceed with a divorce, see The Divorce Process.
If you're considering a divorce, there are several major issues you have to consider. You'll need to understand how property and debt will be split between you and your spouse, who will get custody of any children, who will pay child and or spousal support (alimony), and how much. You can find legal information on all of these topics and more in our section on California Divorce and Family Laws.