Divorce Rules in California: 5 Things You Should Know Before Filing

You said I do, but now you are thinking that you should’ve said I don’t. You feel upset but you’re now facing divorce in California. 

Firstly, know that you are not alone. Nearly 50 percent of all marriages end in divorce in the United States. 

While many people get a divorce, their experience could be a little different depending on where they live. Each state has its own divorce laws. 

Learn a little about the divorce rules in California. If you feel particularly overwhelmed, know a divorce attorney can help you with any step of the process.

Residency Requirement

First things first, you need to be sure that at least one person is a California resident. Otherwise, the state won’t recognize the divorce.

To file for divorce in California, one spouse needs to have been a state resident for at least six months. They also need to be a resident in the county they are filing for at least three months.

What does it mean to be a California resident? A person needs to be living in California for a reason other than a temporary or transitory purpose.

So, if your spouse owns a home in California they only visit during their vacations in the summer, they aren’t a resident.

However, if they live in California because they need to be near their job, they would be a resident. The resident should also have taken steps to establish residency like getting a California driver’s license. 

If you’re confused about residency, you should consult a divorce lawyer Los Angeles. This is an important first step to ensure your divorce will go through the California state judicial system.

No Common-Law Marriage

You need to be sure that you and your spouse are legally married to file for divorce in California. 

That may seem obvious.

It gets complicated because some states recognize common-law marriage. This means that the state recognizes couples living together for a certain amount of time as legally married.

Again, this is not the case in California. Although California does not consider common law marriages, unmarried couples who have lived together for a long time still have certain rights.

You and your spouse didn’t have your wedding in California to qualify. But, you need to have a marriage license or other documentation proving your union. 

Grounds for Divorce

California is a no-fault divorce state. This means that if a spouse wants to file for divorce, they don’t need to prove their reasons.

For example, perhaps adultery is the reason one spouse wanted to divorce the other. For the finalization of the divorce, the spouse filing for divorce would not have to prove that the other spouse committed adultery.

Instead, in a no-fault divorce, a common reason given by parties seeking divorce can just be “irreconcilable differences.” 

A no-fault divorce can take some pressure off of both parties. The successful dissolution of a marriage does not hinge upon whether one spouse can prove fault on the other.

Property Division in California

Some people back away from the idea of a divorce because of all of the assets they accumulated as a couple. When you file for divorce, are you saying goodbye to all of your property?

California is a community property state. This means that all of the assets you and your spouse acquired during your marriage are equally co-owned. This includes income and debts accrued by both of you throughout your marriage.

As an additional example, if the two of you bought a house during your marriage, you both equally own the house. 

Any gifts from third parties do not count. For example, say your grandfather passed away and left you an inheritance. Since he addressed that inheritance to you, that is your property and not co-owned by your spouse.

The same is true for any assets you or your spoused owned before marriage. However, you have to prove that you owned those assets before you got married.

Say you bought your car before you got married. That car is your property and wouldn’t count in the division of assets. But, you would need to provide title and/or purchase documents to prove you owned it before your marriage.

Dividing assets can get complicated if purchase dates are unclear. Not to mention, your emotions may run high. A divorce lawyer Los Angeles can work with you on this process. 

Collaborative Divorce Is One of the Divorce Rules in California 

Do you assume that with divorce comes courtroom litigation? You’ve probably seen it happen to friends, family, and even on television shows. Maybe you take that course of action because it is what you’ve seen happen before.

In California, you don’t have to go to court. This state allows for collaborative divorce. This means you and your spouse can settle on your divorce without a trial.

You will still need to work with a divorce attorney Los Angeles. You and your spouse will meet to discuss asset division, custody agreements, and other terms. You both will still need to sign contracts to make your arrangement legally binding. 

However, sometimes disagreements happen. If you and your spouse reach a deadlock in negotiations, you’ll need to be ready to head to court. The best divorce lawyer in California can help prepare you for this process.

Consult with a Divorce Lawyer Today!

It’s okay to feel whatever emotions you may feel throughout this process. It is a lot to keep track of on top of mourning the end of your marriage. 

Hiring a divorce attorney can help you keep track of where you are in the process. They are knowledgeable about divorce rules in California and can offer legal advice for your situation. 

Get on track and contact us today. One of our attorneys would be happy to offer support and guide you through this process.