The Ins and Outs of Divorce in California: Learn About Residency, Types of Divorce, Property Division, and More

LOS ANGELES, California — California, known as the pioneer of no-fault divorce, has specific requirements that couples must meet to initiate the divorce process. While there is no need to provide a reason for divorce, couples in Los Angeles must wait six months for the court to finalize the divorce. Additionally, certain residency requirements must be fulfilled before filing for divorce.

One of the key prerequisites is that at least one spouse must have resided in California for six months and in the specific county of Los Angeles for three months. However, if a couple wishes to file for legal separation, they can do so immediately and later convert it into a divorce once residency requirements are met.

Domestic partnerships, on the other hand, are not subjected to the same six-month residency rule. However, limitations may exist regarding custody or property division in the local courts. Seek advice from a divorce attorney to better understand the process of dissolving domestic partnerships in California.

In Los Angeles, there are different types of divorce and separation available to couples. Couples can opt for legal separation where they remain married but have property, debts, and custody divided by the court. Another option is collaborative divorce, in which the couple works together to create a separation agreement without the need for a divorce attorney. Both parties must reach an agreement on matters such as spousal support and property division to file for an uncontested divorce in California. Lastly, there is summary dissolution, a simpler form of divorce available to couples with a marriage duration of less than five years. In this case, there should be no children, no debt, and an agreement on property division and spousal support.

It is important to note that common-law marriage is not recognized under California law. Therefore, couples who have simply lived together and not officially married are not required to file for divorce when separating. However, for cohabitating couples who share property or finances, seeking advice from a divorce attorney is essential to understand how property division works in such cases.

Property division in California is divided into two categories: separate property and community property. The date of separation plays a crucial role in this process. Separate property includes assets acquired before marriage and after separation, while community property covers assets obtained during the marriage. Regardless of who paid for what during the marriage, community property is divided equally between spouses from the day of marriage up until the date of separation. California law defines the separation date as the day when the divorce paperwork was filed, even if the couple continues to live together after filing.

When children are involved in a Los Angeles divorce, spouses must come to an agreement on a parenting plan or receive one from the court. California recognizes legal custody, which involves decision-making regarding matters such as medical care, religion, and education. Physical custody determines how parents share time with their children. Both parents are financially responsible for their children after the divorce, and the parent without primary physical custody may be required to pay child support.

Filing for divorce in Los Angeles requires submitting the necessary paperwork to a local county courthouse, either in person, through the mail, or online if e-filing is available. The filing fee for divorce in California is approximately $435. Once the divorce papers are filed, it is crucial to serve them to the spouse. This can be done through a process server, the sheriff’s department, or a trusted individual over the age of 18.

To finalize a divorce, both spouses must share their financial information and sign the divorce papers. After submission to the county court, a waiting period of six months is necessary for the divorce to be officially finalized. This waiting period allows for any appeals or modifications to the separation agreement.

In conclusion, navigating the divorce process in Los Angeles, California requires meeting specific residency requirements, understanding the various types of divorce and separation available, and addressing matters of property division and child custody. Following these guidelines and seeking legal assistance when needed can help individuals effectively navigate the divorce process in the state of California.