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California Divorce Laws 2023 – A Complete Guide

Getting a divorce can be an extremely difficult time in a person’s life. In addition to the emotional strain of separating from an ex-partner, there are also the daunting legal processes in California that need to take place to officially dissolve a marriage. However, with the right guidance and information, you can prepare yourself so that the process can go smoothly from start to finish. A review of divorce law can help you make the best decisions for yourself moving forward.

Residency Requirements in California

To file for a dissolution of marriage in California, you or your ex-partner must have resided in the state of California for at least six months. In addition, you or your ex-partner need to have lived for 3 months or more in the county where you are filing for divorce. If you do not meet the resolution requirement, you can file for legal separation. However, this is different from a dissolution of marriage in California.

Justification for Getting a Divorce in California

You can get a divorce in California without providing a specific reason. This means that neither you nor your spouse need to be at fault, which means you can file a no-fault divorce in California. In the 1960s, California became the first state where you could file a no-fault divorce through the California Family Law Act of 1969. As of 2022, no-fault divorces are the most common types of divorces filed throughout the United States. In addition to no-fault divorces, there is the rarer case where a spouse is deemed incapable by the court of making sound decisions, which must be proven through medical or psychiatric testimony.

The Process of Filing for Divorce in California

Filing for divorce in California starts when you or your ex-partner or spouse files a petition for the dissolution of the marriage. This paperwork highlights simple facts regarding the marriage and whether court orders involving spousal support or asset and property division will be needed.

After the initial petition for dissolution of marriage is filed, a copy of these papers must be served on the respondent by the petitioner. The respondent then has 30 days to respond with a response form. If the respondent does not submit a response within the 30-day period, they lose the right to go to trial or dispute matters related to the divorce.

If any dependent children are involved in the divorce, a declaration form must also be filled out. This form contains basic details about the children that will be affected by the separation, who holds custody, and who holds visitation rights.

In the state of California, six months must pass after all the forms for dissolution have been filed before the divorce can be finalized.

How to Avoid Going to Court

If you and your ex-spouse can come to an agreement on all the terms of dissolution, and neither party will need spousal support, then you could meet the terms for a summary dissolution of marriage. Instead of having a petitioner serve papers to a respondent, the two parties submit the papers together. This way, they can avoid having to go to court.

While a summary dissolution can avoid a lot of the emotional and financial stress associated with separation, it is not always easy to qualify for. There must be no shared children between the parties, and little shared property, assets, and debts to allocate. In addition, the marriage must have lasted less than five years.

Having an unbiased, neutral mediator who can help the two divorcing parties sign an agreement outside of court is also a helpful way to minimize time spent in court or avoid it completely. Other than child custody-related cases, mediation is a voluntary option in California.

FAQs About California Divorce Law

What is a spouse entitled to in a divorce in California?

A lower-earning spouse in California can have the right to around 50 percent of the community assets, which are assets earned during the marriage. They may also receive up to 40 percent of the ex-spouse’s income to finance alimony and child support. They are also eligible for primary child custody. The final figure, however, is determined by the courts based on factors such as the length of the marriage and the current standard of living.

How long do you have to be married to get half of everything in California?

In a California divorce, community property, or jointly owned property, is split 50/50, regardless of the length of the marriage. However, if both parties have signed a prenuptial agreement specifying who gets what proportion of existing assets and property, they would not be required to follow these rules. Anything acquired during the marriage is community property and can be split in half. However, the exception is inheritance or gifts, which are separate assets.

How much does a divorce cost in California in 2023?

The cost of divorce in California varies widely depending on location and the complexity of the case. However, in every county in California, it costs $435 to file a petition for the dissolution of marriage, and it costs $435 for the respondent to answer. Simple cases that avoid court may cost around $4,500, while more contested cases can cost well over $20,000 in legal fees.

What should you not do during a divorce in California?

While going through the process of getting a divorce, there are some basic rules that you need to be aware of to protect yourself during the case. During this time, do not build up large debts or liabilities, or hide or destroy any assets, documents, or property. Additionally, avoid talking about the settlement with your ex-spouse and do not share any confidential information that could be held against you with others.

Contact All American Law

Our experienced and loyal attorneys at All American Law are here to listen and help you work through the specifics of your divorce case. Contact our offices today to talk with our specialists and learn more about how you can settle your divorce matters.

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