Divorce Basics

We spend a lot of time discussing the intricacies of divorce, so this post is dedicated to the basics in California. Why? Because simply knowing the basics can save you time and money, and we’re all about that.

California is a “no fault” state, meaning that you don’t have to prove fault, such as infidelity, to get a divorce. But you do have to choose grounds for divorce: irreconcilable differences or incurable insanity. Insanity requires medical proof, so almost all divorces are obviously filed under irreconcilable differences.

There are also residency requirements to get a divorce in California. One spouse had to have lived in California for at least six months and the county for three months before a divorce can be filed there. If you’d simply like a legal separation or annulment, there are no residency requirements.

Getting the divorce: Mediation can be quicker and cheaper (and you’ll avoid court). This option is used when couples are not in a battle and can agree on most things pertaining to assets, children, etc. Both parties can work with a mediator, often an attorney, to reach a resolution. The other typical option in California is a contested divorce. The court will make more decisions on behalf of the couple in this process. And it can be much more costly.

A summary dissolution is also available for couples who don’t have much to argue about. It is cheap and easy, but there are several requirements:

  • Less than five years of marriage
  • No children
  • Less than $40,000 worth of separate or community property
  • Less than $6,000 debt acquired since marriage
  • Don’t own real estate
  • Not seeking alimony

While this may all seem easy, divorce can be very complicated. Seek the help of an experienced family law attorney in California before making these decisions.