Divorce in California

When a couple has irreconcilable differences, divorce sometimes is the only option. It is important to approach divorce as a legal issue, with dissolution of marriage and appropriation of assets. There are different kinds of divorces which can be taken depending on the relationship with your spouse. The state of California and its courts deals with hundreds of divorces. California is one of the earliest states in the US to introduce no fault divorce i.e. one party asserting irreconcilable differences and these being accepted on face value. This however does not mean that the fault factor can be disregarded completely. It is taken into account when property is being divided or deciding the amount for alimony. Keeping in account that California is a community property state, the California family and divorce laws ensures that any property earned or acquired during the course of marriage is rendered marital property.

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There are different types of divorces on which it may depend whether you need to go to the court or not. These types are;

Summary Dissolution
Summary dissolution is the fastest way in California to get a divorce, whether you are a married couple or in a registered domestic partnership. If you have spent 5 years with your spouse, have no children and are in mutual agreement with the terms of the divorce, you can file for Summary Dissolution. The prerequisites are;


  • One of the partners must have lived in California for the last six months as well as in the county where the divorce is being filed for three months,

  • Both partners want the marriage/domestic partnership to end,

  • Neither of the partners own real property or community property of more than $ 38,000 or separate property of more than $ 38,000 or would have incurred a debt of more than $ 6000,

  • The partners have no children and therefore both of them waive any rights for spousal support.


The partners will also need to enter into a property settlement agreement.

Uncontested Case

If both spouses agree to the terms of divorce but do not meet the requirements of a summary dissolution you can file for an uncontested case. This kind of Divorce in California does not usually involve courts. This is the type where you might have children and wish to end the marriage. For child custody you may need to obtain an order by a judge but otherwise the couple remains at a mutual agreement to the terms of the divorce.

Contested Divorce
This is where the courts are involved. If you cannot reach a mutual consensus regarding the terms of the divorce, you will have to file a contested case.

The state of California will hire a mediator for you if you cannot come to terms with the division of marital property. Everything that you purchased jointly or during the course of the marriage is considered community property which needs to be divided in half. Also, unlike many other states, the alimony in California is given on a limited basis to allow the spouse to start taking care of herself/himself. With it comes child support and custody matters which can be handled by the court or agreed informally between the couple.


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