California

Frequently Asked California Divorce Questions

California Divorce Attorneys provide answers to frequently asked questions with regards to divorce in California.

What are the grounds for divorce?

Irreconcilable differences, fraud, and incurable insanity.

What is a divorce going to cost me? Can I afford it?

It depends on the number of children, assets, years of marriage, if there are allegations of domestic violence, and many other factors.  No case is alike and there is no way of generating an average number.

Do I really need to hire an attorney?

Technically, no. A person can represent themselves by filing In Pro Per. This does not mean that a person should not get an attorney, though.

The laws governing dissolution, child support, and child custody are very complex and the forms necessary to file a motion for dissolution, support and custody are very hard to complete without making errors.

A divorce attorney is always the best bet in order to keep informed about the current law, any changes in the law, and most especially in order to gain an understanding about how the court process works.

Does this state grant divorces based on marital fault?

No. California is a no-fault state.

Can I get maintenance or will I have to provide maintenance to my spouse?

The word maintenance is not utilized in California. Maintenance is referred to as Spousal Support.

Whether you have a right to spousal support depends on a number of factors including, but not limited to, your gross annual income, your spouse’s gross annual income, the number of children that you have, and the parenting time-share that has been ordered by the court.

Can I change my name at the time of divorce?

Yes. There is a provision in your final judgment paperwork that enables you to change your name.

Can I get an annulment?

Yes. A marriage is never legally valid when it is incestuous or bigamous. Other marriages can be annulled if the party filing for annulment was under 18 years old when the party was married; if either party was already legally married; if one of the parties was of unsound mind or unable to understand the nature of marriage; fraud; force; or physical incapacity.

When can I file for divorce?

As soon as you consider yourself legally separated (the point at which you do not want to reconcile).

When is my case going to be over?

The dissolution process can take a year or more to complete.

Do I have to go to court?

Not if you are able to settle the matter outside of court.

If attempts to serve my spouse do not work, what is my next step?

You can have your courier or the person that you had attempt to serve your spouse file a declaration regarding the number of serves. After a certain number of serves the court will hear the matter without the other party being served.

At what point during the process can a spouse remarry or start dating?

After final entry of Judgment.

What if my spouse does not want the divorce?

California is a no-fault divorce state. The court will divorce you regardless if one party does not consent.

Do the other issues – support, custody, spousal support, and property – have to be decided before the divorce is final?

Yes. Unless you agree to reserve jurisdiction over the particular matter (meaning you will deal with a certain item later in time). Child custody and child support always need to be addressed, however.

How long do I have to live in this state before I can obtain a divorce?

Six months.

After I file for divorce, do I have to continue to live in this state?

No.

What if I am in the military and out of state?

If you are military then you have to file in the state and county where you live or where the other party resides (if you are living abroad).

What forms do I need to file a divorce?

Petition for Dissolution, Summons, and Proof of Service.

Where is a divorce complaint filed?

In the county where you reside.

How do I serve the divorce complaint on my spouse? How long do I have to wait to receive my divorce?

Have a person other than yourself serve him or her, such as a courier.

How is a divorce granted? Will I have to go to court?

By Final Judgment or by Stipulation. If there is a dispute, then you would have to go to court.

What typically happens if I go to court to obtain my divorce myself?

You will have to fill out and file your own paperwork. You will also have to speak to the judge and conduct the trial on your own by calling witnesses.

At any time can a parent change a minor child’s last name without the other parent’s permission?

Only if one of the parents has terminated their parental rights.

Can a couple become legally married by living together as man and wife under the state’s laws (common law marriage)?

No. But there are rules that could permit one of the parties to receive spousal support based on putative spouse status.