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CALIFORNIA DIVORCE BASICS AND OVERVIEW
This is a divorce reference guide to understanding divorce in California. Each state has its own requirements, laws, and documentation, so we decided to gather it all in one location to make it easy and quick for you to find the information you need before, during and after your divorce.
Divorce in California Made Easy (See California Divorce Help Center)
- Time Frame After Initial Filing: The parties must wait six months before the action is final.
- Where to File: Superior Court of California, County of ______________. (See California Court Addresses)
- State Statutes: California Family Code.
- Name of Action: Dissolution of Marriage.
- Name of Parties: Petitioner and Respondent.
- No Fault and Fault or No-Fault Only: California was the first no-fault state.
- Primary Documents Filed: Summons and Petition for Dissolution and Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage. (See CA Forms List With Explanations)
- Physical Separation Required: No.
- Separation Time Before Filing: None.
- Legal Separation Permitted: Yes, with same grounds as dissolution of marriage. (Not Ready for a Divorce?)
- Grounds: No-Fault, irreconcilable differences causing an irremediable breakdown of the marriage; incurable insanity. (See California Laws for Divorce)
- Residency Requirement: Petitioner or respondent must be a resident of California for six months and of the county in which the proceeding is filed for three months next preceding the filing of the petition.
- Mediation Required: May be required when parents cannot agree on parenting plan.
- Counseling Required: The California courts do not offer nor require marriage counseling.
- Parenting Classes Required: Judges may order parenting classes -- either in-person, online or video.
- Filing Fee: Statewide fee is $435. (See Filing Fee Waiver Form)
- Where to File for Child Support: Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) provides public child support enforcement. There are 64 Local Child Support Agencies.
- Child Support Guidelines Model: Income Shares Model (Family Code Sections 4050-4076) (See California Child Support)
- Property Division: Community, which means "all community property and debt acquired from the date of marriage until the marital cut-off date is divided and distributed equally." (See California Property Division)
- Appreciation of Separate Property: Remains separate.
- Attendance at Hearing: In uncontested actions, neither spouse must appear in court. If there are minor children involved it is the judges discretion.
- Fault Considered in Property Division: The court does not consider marital fault, but in the event of economic misconduct, the court may also award, from one spouse's share, an amount the court determines he or she deliberately misappropriated to the detriment of the other spouse.
- Waiting Period to Re-Marry: None.
- Ways to Serve Spouse: In all divorce actions in California except summary, the divorce papers delivered by the server at the onset of the action are 1) the summons - family law, 2) the petition for divorce, and 3) a blank response form. Forms of service are personal, by mail, substituted service, service by notice and acknowledgement of receipt, and service by publication. (See California Divorce Process)
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