How to file for divorce in California?


California is a “no-fault” divorce state, which means that neither spouse is required to prove up wrongdoing in order to proceed with filing for a divorce. Under the family code, the spouse filing for divorce (also known as the “Petitioner”) need only cite that irreconcilable differences have arisen, which is the legal ground for filing, but a fancy way of saying that there is a breakdown of the couples’ marriage.

In order to proceed with filing for divorce in California, there are certain residency requirements which must be complied with. At least one spouse must have been a resident of the state of California for at least six months prior to filing for divorce. In addition, at least one spouse must have been a resident in the county of filing for at least three months prior to the filing.

If you have not satisfied the residency requirements for filing for divorce, yet intend to do so, you may consult with an attorney regarding filing for legal separation in the meantime.

When you file for divorce in California, you will be required to complete several official forms, also known as judicial council forms, and file them with the court clerk in the county where you reside.  These forms include, but are not limited to:

Petition – Marriage/Domestic Partnership (Form FL – 100)

The Petition is a judicial council form which provides information regarding your marriage. This includes information regarding the length of your marriage, the date of your separation, child custody and support (if applicable), the legal basis for filing (irreconcilable differences), spousal support, separate property, community property, and attorney’s fees.

Summons (Family Law) (Form FL-110)

The Summons notifies the other spouse that you have filed for divorce, contains information related to the divorce process, and contains Standard Family Law Restraining Orders. The Standard Family Law Restraining Orders are detailed on page 2 of the Summons and include restraints such as that neither party shall remove the minor children from the state without prior written agreement of the other parent, or a court order.

You will also be required to serve these forms, along with a series of blank responsive forms, on the other party.

Learn more: What happens after I file for divorce?

Going through a divorce can be one of the most overwhelming and emotional times in a person’s life. Navigating through this process, or even figuring out where to start, can seem daunting. Although the outcome of a case cannot be guaranteed, understanding the basics, retaining an experienced lawyer at an early stage in the process, and formulating a case strategy, can exponentially increase the likelihood of obtaining a favorable result. At Holstrom, Block & Parke, our lawyers can help navigate you through the court process, and help you to both understand and protect your interests.

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