Divorce is an important, often difficult step that calls for some degree of preparation and planning. If you have decided to file for divorce in California, there are some basic facts you need to understand. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about divorce in California.
In this post, we’ll cover some essential topics such as:
- Difference Between Divorce, Separation, and Annulment
- Residency Requirement
- California Is a No-Fault State
- The Community Property System
- Child Custody
Differences Between Divorce, Legal Separation, and Annulment
There are three main ways to end a marriage in California: divorce, legal separation, and annulment. Here are the basic differences between these alternatives:
- Divorce. Also called “dissolution of marriage,” or “dissolution of domestic partnership,” a divorce ends your marriage and/or domestic partnership, allowing you to remarry, or be in a domestic partnership again.
- Legal separation. This option does NOT end your marriage, so it doesn’t allow you to remarry or enter into a domestic partnership. A legal separation, however, allows you to ask the court to make the same orders as after a divorce (such as property division, child support, or restraining order).
- Annulment. Also known as “nullity of marriage,” or “nullity of domestic partnership,” is when a court says that your marriage is not valid legally. Some reasons for annulment include incestuous or bigamous marriages or fraudulent marriages. Keep in mind that annulments are difficult to prove and rarely granted.
One of the most important factors to keep in mind as you prepare to file for divorce in California is that there is a residency requirement. This means that the two following conditions must be met:
- Either you or your spouse must have lived in California for the last six months.
- Either you or your spouse must have lived in the county where you plan to file for divorce for the last three months.
Same-sex married couples are an exception to this rule. If a same-sex couple married in California lives in a state that won’t dissolve a same-sex marriage, then the spouses may file for divorce in California regardless of the above requirements.
California Is a “No-Fault” State
When it comes to divorce, California is a “no-fault” state.” This means that in order to get a divorce in California you are NOT required to prove that the other spouse did something wrong.
Before 1970, any person filing for divorce had to prove their reasons in court. Needless to say, this was a long, stressful process. Removing this requirement has simplified divorce, making it more bearable for spouses.
Since California became the first “no-fault” state in 1969, most states have incorporated this idea in some way or another into their legal systems.
The Community Property System
Another unique feature of the divorce process in California is the community property system. Simply put, this means that each spouse owns one-half of the property and is responsible for one-half of the debt. This dictates how things are shared, so at divorce, each spouse gets half of everything.
Here, the term “property” includes savings, earnings, and assets bought or earned during the marriage. However, inheritance, gifts, and property owned before the marriage are excluded.
At the Mitchell & Rivas Law Group, We Are Focused on You
Need help filing for divorce in California? At the Mitchell & Rivas Law Group, we offer a wide variety of professional and efficient services that go from preliminary legal advice to litigation and civil law for both corporate and private clients.
We are located at 3800 Orange Street Suite 150, Riverside, California. Contact us today by email (firstname.lastname@example.org), telephone (951-715-4695), or through our online form to learn more about our services. Hablamos español.