Frequently Asked Questions About California Divorce
California has specific laws governing who can divorce here and how the process is carried out in the courts. People need dependable guidance as they make one of the biggest decisions of their lives — whether to file for divorce or how to respond if filed upon.
The California Family Code is vast and complex. There is no substitute for professional legal counsel if you are considering or facing divorce. However, it helps to have a grasp of some basics upfront. Below are a few common questions and brief responses.
Do I have to be a California resident to divorce here?
To file for divorce, you must be able to prove California residency for six months and residency in the county where you file for at least three months. The respondent or "defendant" spouse in a divorce case does not have to be a California resident, however.
What are some of the key early steps in the divorce process, and how long does it take?
Divorce proceedings begin when either spouse files a petition that is served on the other. The person served then has 30 days to file a response, or the case proceeds without that response toward a likely final judgment about six months later.
If there is a response, the parties begin the process of exchanging information and, typically, attempting to negotiate a marital settlement agreement either on their own or in a mandatory conference in court. Every case is different, and the entire process can take anywhere from months to several years.
Do I need to prove my spouse is at fault for causing the divorce?
No. California is a "no fault" divorce state. Grounds for divorce are not considered, although the court may consider many factors when issuing orders on child custody and other issues.
How do I get started if I have decided I want a divorce — or a legal separation?
We strongly encourage you to contact an experienced, qualified California divorce attorney — ideally, one who focuses exclusively on family law. Pursuing a do-it-yourself divorce is legal but filled with traps and potential complications.
At The Law Offices of Burch & Coulston, LLP, in Orange County, our lawyers have guided many hundreds of men and women through divorces of all levels of complexity. We emphasize preparation and results, always putting our clients' needs and best interests first.