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California Divorce FAQs

a couple sitting behind their divorce papers and wedding rings

If you're considering filing for divorce, you probably have countless questions. Divorce is a complicated process, and it's essential to have a basic understanding of California divorce laws before you begin the proceedings. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about divorce in California:

What are the grounds for divorce in California?

California was the first state to allow no-fault divorces, which means you do not need to accuse your spouse of misconduct to file. You can also cite "irreconcilable differences" as the grounds for the divorce.

Does California have residency requirements for divorce?

To file for divorce in California, you or your spouse must have lived in-state for at least six months. You or your spouse must also have lived in the county where you're filing for at least three months.

Will I have to go to court?

You or your attorney will file your paperwork with the court, but you won't need to appear for litigation unless you and your spouse disagree on the settlement. In most cases, the spouses can create agreements with the help of attorneys or mediators, so they don't rely on the court to make decisions.

How long does it take to finalize the divorce after filing the dissolution?

Like in other states, divorce can be a lengthy process in California. You should expect to wait at least six months after filing the petition before the divorce is finalized. Even if you and your spouse complete all the paperwork in a shorter period, the six-month waiting period is mandatory.

What is a summary dissolution? Do I qualify for it?

A summary dissolution is a simpler and easier alternative to a divorce. You may qualify for a summary dissolution if your marriage lasted less than five years, you and your spouse have no children, don't own real estate, and have fairly limited debt. To get a summary dissolution, you and your spouse will create a written agreement on how you'll split your property and debts. This process still includes the six-month waiting period, but it's much less demanding than going through a traditional divorce.

How is property division handled in California?

California is a community property state. This means that any property owned by you or your spouse is considered joint property. In most cases, property is split equally between spouses during a divorce. However, this does not apply to money or property that one partner received as a gift or inheritance. Debt incurred during the marriage is generally considered community property, too.

How are child custody and child support determined in California?

If the spouses can't agree on a custody arrangement for their children, the case will go to court, and the judge will decide. There are a number of factors the judge will consider when settling the custody dispute, and the goal is always to find the solution that is best for the children.

Section 4055 of the California Family Code includes an equation that the court uses to calculate child support. This equation considers the income of both parties, the amount of time each parent spends with the children, and the number of children the parents have.

What should I do if I'm served with divorce papers?

If you receive divorce papers from your spouse, you have to file a response with the court within 30 days. The response is a document that informs the judge that you plan to appear in court if necessary and that you want to be notified of a court date. If you don't file the response, the court may decide on the outcome of the divorce and the splitting of assets without your input.

Do I need a lawyer?

It is always wise to hire a lawyer when you're going through a divorce. If you and your spouse disagree on the settlement, your lawyer can help you get the best outcome. Even if you and your spouse agree on everything and are amicably divorcing, the process can be complicated. Your divorce attorney will ensure that all the documentation is completed and filed on time, which reduces the risk of running into delays or other problems.

Divorce is not easy, but working with a family lawyer you trust will streamline the process. If you or your spouse is planning to file for divorce, you can contact Embry Family Law P.C. for assistance.