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The divorce process in California explained

On Behalf of | Aug 15, 2022 | Divorce

Divorce can be an emotionally draining process, and it’s understandable you want to get it done as fast as possible. However, the legal side of things can take time, and it may be months before you fully separate from your spouse.

The length of your divorce depends on various circumstances, such as whether it is contested or not. Still, there are overarching aspects that cut across all divorce cases. Here is how the process works in California:

You must meet California’s residency requirements

First, you or your spouse must have lived in California for at least six months and in your present county for the last three months. Same-sex couples and domestic partners may have different residency requirements.

Filing the divorce paperwork

A court case formally kicks off the divorce process. You will then need to file a petition and summons at the divorce court and serve your spouse. This officially lets them know that you have initiated divorce proceedings.

You are then required to share financial information with your spouse and make an agreement on how to handle your marital estate, finances and your children. If you cannot agree, the court will do that for you. Notably, other legal technicalities can stretch the amount of time before the divorce is finalized.

Your spouse has 30 days to respond to your petition for a divorce. If they fail to do so, the court will still enter a judgment. If they do, that usually starts the negotiation process regarding issues of support, custody and property in earnest.

Expediting the process

Contested divorces take longer. Disagreements with your ex around property division or custody of the children can drag the entire process down, and it may be years before your divorce is settled. 

If you wish to get done with everything much quicker, you should explore other less adversarial ways of handling your divorce, such as mediation. It can save you a lot of time and money.