Grounds for Divorce in California
Divorce in California is called a Dissolution of Marriage. There are only two grounds for divorce in California: 1) Irreconcilable differences(most common) and 2) incurable insanity (almost never used).
What is required to meet the statutory requirements is “the existence of substantial marital problems which have so impaired the marriage relationship that the legitimate objects of matrimony have been destroyed and as to which there is no reasonable possibility of elimination, correction or resolution.”Marriage of Walton (1972) 28 CA3d 108, 118, 104 CR 472.
Some Initial Steps in a California Divorce
Below, some of the basics of California divorce law is discussed. A myriad of issues can come up in a California divorce pertaining to child custody, child visitation, child support, spousal support and division of community property assets. Each persons situation is very specific and fact driven and this information cannot be substituted for an in-person consultation with an attorney to discuss the specific facts of your case. Below is some basic information on the beginning steps of a divorce.
In order to file for divorce in California, at least one of the parties must have resided in California for at least six months prior to filing, and in the county where he/she plans to file for the divorce, for the prior three months.
Step 1: Filing:
A Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and Summons may be filed with the Superior Court in the county where one of the spouses has resided for the past three months. The Petitioner, spouse who is filing, must serve the Respondent, other spouse, with copies of the Petition and other paperwork. Thus, at a minimum, the petitioner will file with the court clerk the petition – Marriage /Domestic Partnership (Form FL-100) and a summons (Form FL-110). If there are children involved, then a Declaration Under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (Form FL-105) is also filed.
Step 2: Service of Process
Once your forms have been completed and filed wit the court, they must be served. Someone 18 or older, not the petitioner, serves the spouse or domestic partner (respondent) with all the forms from Step 1, with the addition of a blank response form (FL-120) and then the petitioner will file the proof-of-service of summons form (FL-115). The respondent then will have 30 days to file and serve this response.
Step 3: Financial Disclosures
Financial disclosures can either be made at the same time as filing (step 1) or within 60 days of filing. The following forms must be filed as part of this stage:
- Declaration of Disclosure (Form FL 1-140)
- Income and Expense Declaration (Form FL-150)
- Schedule of Assets and Debts (Form FL-142) or
- Property Declaration (Form FL-160)
- All tax returns within the last 2 years (these are served on the other party but not filed with the court)
Following disclosure of these forms, both parties file a Declaration Regarding Service (Form FL-141) with the court.
After filing for divorce, there is a mandatory six month waiting period before the divorce may become final. Thus, your divorce will not be final until six months and one day following the initial filing.
Summary Dissolution is a streamlined process for obtaining a divorce. To qualify for this process, the following requirements must be met.
- The residency requirement is met;
- The couple has been married no more than five years on the date the Joint Petition for Summary Dissolution of Marriage is filed;
- There are no children, either adopted or born before or during the marriage and the wife is not currently pregnant;
- Neither the couple, nor either spouse owns or has an interest in any real estate;
- The couple does not owe more than $6,000 for debts acquired since the date of the marriage, excluding auto loans;
- There is no community property worth more than $41,000, excluding vehicles;
- Neither spouse has separate property worth more than $41,000, excluding debts on the property or auto loans;
- Both spouses agree that neither spouse will ever get spousal support; and
- Both spouses have signed an agreement that divides their property and debts.
There is no trial or hearing and after obtaining a divorce through this process, neither party can ask for a new trial, or appeal the judgment to a higher court. The same residency requirements as listed above still apply.