A California divorce, or dissolution of marriage, can be filed by either spouse to end the marital relationship. Upon completion of a California divorce, the parties are restored back to single status. The court will also issue any necessary orders for child support and custody, alimony (spousal support) and the division of community and separate assets and debts. LegalZoom can assist you in the document preparation and filing for your divorce uncontested without the expense of an attorney.
Types of Divorce in California
A divorce in California is uncontested if you and your spouse can agree on major issues such as property division, alimony and child support, and if it is unlikely that your spouse will file papers in court disagreeing with the divorce request. On the other hand, a divorce is contested if you and your spouse cannot agree on enough issues to require resolution by the court.
Summary dissolution is an additional option for divorce in California that is only available to married couples meeting the following requirements:
- You and your spouse have been married less than five (5) years as of the date the divorce action is filed.
- You and your spouse have no children together whether born before or during the marriage, including adopted minors, and the Wife, to her knowledge, is not pregnant as of the date the divorce action is filed.
- You and your spouse agree that neither will receive spousal support.
- Neither you nor your spouse has any interest/ownership in real estate.
- Your grounds for dissolution are irreconcilable differences.
- The unpaid debts that you and your spouse incurred during marriage do not total more than $4,000 (except in regard to an automobile)
- The total fair market value of your community assets is no greater than $32,000 (except in regard to automobiles)
- Neither you nor your spouse have separate property worth more than $32,000 (except in regard to automobiles)
- Either you or your spouse have lived in California for the last 6 months and in the county where you file for summary dissolution for the last 3 months.
Certain waivers and agreements are also required by the state before you may proceed with a summary dissolution.
Alternatives to Divorce in California
A legal separation can be filed by a married person who wishes to maintain the marriage but physically separate and try to resolve any problems in the marriage. The grounds for separation are the same as those for dissolution: irreconcilable differences and incurable insanity. Upon such filing, the court will issue any necessary orders for child custody and visitation, child and spousal support and determinations of separate property assets and debts. If the other party responds to the separation paperwork and requests a dissolution of marriage, the court may grant this. However, married persons still must file for divorce to end the marriage
An annulment is sought in order to nullify the marriage and disavow its existence, returning the parties to their prior single status, as if they never married. The person seeking the annulment must prove that the prerequisites for annulments are met. The prerequisites tend to be more difficult to establish and therefore many lawyers advise clients to file for divorce.