Going through a divorce in California? Odds are you have loads of questions about how it all works in this state. Who files? How much will it cost? Can you get a quick one-day divorce?
I’ll answer the 5 most common divorce questions I get asked about California marital dissolutions to help make things a bit clearer during an uncertain time.
1. What California Court Handles My Divorce?
The Superior Court in the county where you file is responsible for processing and finalizing your divorce. For example, if you meet the residency requirements and file paperwork with the Sacramento County Superior Court, they’ll handle your case.
California has 58 Superior Court systems – one for each county. Find your local court to get county-specific paperwork and filing details.
2. What are the Requirements to File for Divorce in California?
To file for divorce in California, either you or your spouse must have lived in California for at least 6 months and be a resident of the county you are filing in for at least 3 months prior.
You must also cite “irreconcilable differences” as the reason you are seeking a marital dissolution. This means you and your spouse have conflicts in your marriage that can’t be resolved.
3. What’s a Summary Dissolution (One-Day Divorce)?
If you meet the requirements, California offers a simplified “one-day divorce” called a Summary Dissolution. To qualify, you must be married for less than 5 years, have no children together, and have minimal community property assets or debts.
If approved by a judge, both spouses can walk away single on the same day they file the paperwork. It saves time and money compared to a regular dissolution.
4. Where Do I Get the Divorce Paperwork?
You have a few options to get California divorce forms:
- Online from your county’s Superior Court website
- In-person from the courthouse clerk
- From a lawyer (more expensive but they customize forms)
Be sure you use state-approved California divorce forms that apply to you. Each spouse must complete certain filings.
5. What’s the Most Affordable Divorce Option?
If you and your spouse agree on key issues like property division and child custody, using mediation services can save substantially on legal fees.
Filing yourself without lawyers (called Pro Se) is also cheaper – but can be complicated if you have lots of shared assets or disputes.
Hiring just one lawyer to guide the paperwork process is cheaper than each spouse hiring their own lawyer to negotiate before going to court.
I hope these answers help provide clarity and direction as you start the divorce process in California! Let me know if you have any other questions.