For couples in California and elsewhere who are heading for divorce, the changes that this momentous decision will involve will impact the rest of their lives and their children’s future as well. Understanding the process of divorce may not feel any better, but it can provide a framework that better prepares you for what is about to happen.
Every state has different requirements for divorce, so finding out about these laws and how they will direct a judge’s rulings can be helpful. Financial concerns involving property division, custody, and support are a major part of any contested divorce proceeding, so it is helpful to plan ahead and discover important tips on how to proceed.
Requirements and grounds for divorce
In California, a divorce is called dissolution of marriage or of domestic partnership, and as a no-fault state, the only grounds for divorce are irreconcilable differences. Regardless of whether the divorce goes through the court system or a mediated or other alternative dispute resolution method, it will take a minimum of six months.
In California, one spouse must be a resident of the state for a minimum of six months, and of the county where the divorce will take place for three months, to proceed with a divorce. Domestic partners do not need to meet residency requirements to divorce if their union is registered in the state.
Same-sex couples may file for a separation or divorce if neither spouse is a resident, as long as the marriage took place in California or if the spouses are in a state that will not dissolve the marriage.
Filing for divorce
In a regular dissolution proceeding, one spouse will file a petition, and the other spouse must respond to it within 30 days. From this point and depending on the unique concerns of the domestic situation, there may be separate orders for:
- the division of marital property and debt
- custody and visitation
- child custody and alimony
Many couples will attempt to resolve differences and come to a satisfactory settlement agreement out of court. This is preferable in many situations, as California is a community property state and in a court proceeding, the judge will likely split marital assets equally between the two parties. Couples may also better handle negotiations for custody, child support and alimony where they can discuss a best path forward for everyone in the family.