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California Divorce Facts

When going through a divorce in in California, it's helpful to have some key information. Below you will find some of the most important facts everyone getting a divorce in the state of California should know. The facts listed here are only a selected few of the more comprehensive set of California Divorce Laws available for your reference. Remember, every state's law is different, and if you're not sure about a law in your state, you should ask a qualified California Divorce Professional.

  • To file for divorce, one spouse must have lived in California for the last six months, and the county where the action is filed for the last three months. Spouses who have lived in California for at least six months, but in different counties for at least three months can file in either county.
  • The court may order a 30-day stay of dissolution of marriage proceedings when it appears that there is a reasonable possibility of reconciliation.
  • In a summary dissolution, the spouses do not have to talk to a judge and neither needs to hire a lawyer. A marriage of five years or less may be ended by summary dissolution. In this regime, a joint petition for summary dissolution is filed when 1) either spouse meets the standard residency requirement, 2) the marriage is irretrievably broken down due to irreconcilable differences, 3) the marriage is childless, 4) the wife is not pregnant, 5) neither spouse owns real estate, 6) there are no unpaid debts greater than $4,000, 7) the total value of community property is less than $25,000, 8) neither spouse has separate property (excluding cars and loans) of greater than $25,000, 9) the spouses have reached an agreement regarding the division and distributions of assets and liabilities, 10) both waive their rights to maintenance and appeal; 11) both have read a brochure about summary dissolution and 12) both desire to end the marriage.
  • A party may also obtain a quick and easy divorce if the spouse fails to file a response in the case and therefore defaults. Most uncontested cases can be handled with the spouses filing papers by mail.
  • California divorce laws recognize that both spouses make valuable contributions to any marriage regardless of their employment. Property is labeled either "community property" or "separate property." Community property is all property, in or out of the state, that either spouse acquired during the marriage. Each spouse owns one-half of all community property. It does not matter if only one spouse worked outside of the home during the marriage or if this property is in only one spouse's name. Generally, debts incurred during the marriage are community obligations. This includes credit card bills, even if the credit card is in one name only. Student loans are an important exception because they are considered separate property debts. Community property possessions and community property debts are divided equally unless both spouses agree to an unequal division in writing. If spouses can't agree on the division of debts and possessions, a judge makes that decision. Separate property is property acquired before marriage, property received after the date of separation, inheritances, and gifts. Separate property is not divided in the divorce. Debts incurred before getting married or incurred after separating are separate property debts. Spouses are required to file proof of community and separate property on a Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure.
  • The court may award alimony to either spouse in any amount for any period of time that it deems just and reasonable based on the standard of living during the marriage.
  • Joint or sole custody may be awarded based on the best interests of the child and other factors that include 1) the preference of the child, 2) the desire and ability of each parent to allow an open and loving relationship between the child and the other parent, 3) the childs health, safety and welfare, the nature and contact with both parents and 4) the history of alcohol and drug use. Marital misconduct may be considered.
  • Either parent may be ordered to pay an amount necessary for the support, maintenance and education of the child.

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