8 Steps to Get a Divorce in California: The Ultimate Guide

Divorce Attorney in Stockton, California

Guide 4 Divorce in California

Considering a divorce in California? You will want to know what the process entails. Dissolving a marriage can be a complicated process, but with the help of an experienced family law attorney, it can be much easier.

This blog post will outline steps 1 through 4 of the 8 steps you need to take to get a divorce in California. Remember that every situation is unique. Always consult an attorney before undertaking any legal proceedings.

Getting a Divorce in California

Overview of California’s 8 Steps

No two relationships are ever the same. This means that breakups aren’t, either, and your process will vary according to what type of divorce you choose and your particular needs. 

That being said, most California divorces will require you to take these eight basic steps:  

  1. Meet state and county residency requirements.
  2. Establish your grounds for divorce. 
  3. File the correct paperwork with your county superior court. 
  4. Execute proper service to your spouse. 
  5. Wait for a response. 
  6. Endure California’s mandatory waiting period.
  7. Attend either a settlement hearing or divorce trial.
  8. Receive your final divorce order.
  9. Here’s a closer look at the first four steps and what you can expect from each. 

Step #1: Residency Requirements

You can’t file for divorce in California unless you live in California. Hence, before you file for divorce, you should double-check to ensure you meet the residency requirements.

You must live in California for at least six months and in the county where you plan to file your divorce petition for three months before filing. If you don’t meet these residency requirements, you will not be able to move forward with your divorce until you do. 

Step #2: Establishing Your Grounds for Divorce

California is a no-fault divorce state. A no-fault divorce means that neither spouse can blame the other for the dissolution of the marriage. The most common reason cited is irreconcilable differences. In a no-fault divorce, all that needs to be proved is that the marriage is “irreparably broken” and that there is no hope for reconciliation.

Step #3: File the correct paperwork with your county Superior Court.

After determining your grounds for divorce and meeting the residency requirements, you must file the correct paperwork with your county superior court. You will need to file a Petition for the Dissolution of Marriage and any other required forms. Once you have filed these forms, you will need to pay a filing fee. The cost can vary depending on your county.

Step #4 Execute proper service to your spouse.

After you have filed your divorce petition with the court, you will need to “serve” your spouse with the papers. You must give them a copy of the petition and other required forms. You need to have someone at least 18 years old, and not a party to your case serve the necessary documents.

Your First Steps

This article explored four preliminary steps to obtaining a divorce in California. Look out for the following article, where we will outline what to expect after the response, the mandatory wait time, the settlement hearing/divorce trial, and the divorce order. 

Remember, divorce can be complicated. At times, one party may not be ready for a divorce. In that case, it may be beneficial to seek pre-divorce therapy with a licensed psychotherapist experienced in marital therapy. However, divorce may be your only option if you have thoroughly exhausted with your spouse the use of psychotherapy. Nevertheless, counseling can help you bridge the gap often found in contested separation cases. team can help you navigate the confusion of divorce, the division of property, spousal support, and the numerous other questions that arise during this challenging time in life.