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California Divorce Information

The following information is to provide a basic understanding of the various aspects of divorce in the State of California.

You can get more specific information regarding California divorce laws using the links provided to California divorce laws or at your local library.

This information is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Before taking any action you should seek the advice of an attorney familiar with the laws in the state in which you will be seeking a divorce.

Every effort has been made to assure that the information contained in these pages is accurate however, due to the ever changing nature of the law some material may be outdated or may no longer apply.

California Divorce Resources

Residency Requirements One of the parties much have been a resident of California for six months and of the county in which the proceeding is filed for three months.

Dissolution, nullity, or legal separation of a marriage between same sex couples may be entered, even if neither spouse is a resident or maintains a home in California, at the time the proceedings are filed, if the following are true:
  • The marriage was entered in California.
  • Neither party to the marriage resides in a jurisdiction that will dissolve the marriage. If the jurisdiction does not recognize the marriage, there shall be a rebuttable presumption that the jurisdiction will not dissolve the marriage.
  • For the purposes of same sex dissolution, the superior court in the county where the marriage occurred will be the court for the proceeding. The dissolution, nullity, or legal separation shall be adjudicated in accordance with California law.
Where to File Superior Court
Grounds for Divorce Dissolution of the marriage or legal separation of the parties may be based on either of the following grounds, which shall be pleaded generally:
  • Irreconcilable differences, which have caused the irremediable breakdown of the marriage.
  • Incurable insanity
Voluntary or Required Mediation No
Voluntary or Recommended Counseling The court may require parents or any other party involved in a custody or visitation dispute, and the minor child, to participate in outpatient counseling with a licensed mental health professional,
Property Distribution California is a "community property" state. Any jointly-held property is presumed to be "community" property, unless it is clearly stated in a deed or written agreement that the property is "separate" property. Unless the spouses agree otherwise, all community and quasi-community property is divided equally between the spouses. If economic circumstances warrant, however, the court may award any asset to one spouse on such conditions as it feels proper to provide for a substantially equal distribution of property. In addition, if one of the spouses has deliberately misappropriated community property, the court may make an unequal division of the community property. Marital contributions to the education and training of the other spouse that substantially increases or enhances the other spouse's earning capacity are reimbursable to the community property. Each spouse shall be responsible for the following debts:
  • those incurred prior to marriage
  • any separate debts during the marriage that were not incurred to benefit the community (marriage)
  • their equitable share of any community debts made during the marriage
  • any debts incurred after separation and before dissolution of marriage if the debts were for non-necessities and an equitable share of debts incurred during this period if the debts were for necessities
Child Custody According to California statute Family Code - FAM DIVISION 8. CUSTODY OF CHILDREN the folloiwng is used in determining custody
  1. Custody should be granted in the following order of preference according to the best interest of the child as provided in Sections 3011 and 3020:
    1. To both parents jointly pursuant to Chapter 4 (commencing with Section 3080) or to either parent. In making an order granting custody to either parent, the court shall consider, among other factors, which parent is more likely to allow the child frequent and continuing contact with the noncustodial parent, consistent with Sections 3011 and 3020, and shall not prefer a parent as custodian because of that parent's sex. The court, in its discretion, may require the parents to submit to the court a plan for the implementation of the custody order.
    2. If to neither parent, to the person or persons in whose home the child has been living in a wholesome and stable environment.
    3. To any other person or persons deemed by the court to be suitable and able to provide adequate and proper care and guidance for the child.
  2. The immigration status of a parent, legal guardian, or relative shall not disqualify the parent, legal guardian, or relative from receiving custody under subdivision (a).
  3. This section establishes neither a preference nor a presumption for or against joint legal custody, joint physical custody, or sole custody, but allows the court and the family the widest discretion to choose a parenting plan that is in the best interest of the child.
  4. In cases where a child has more than two parents, the court shall allocate custody and visitation among the parents based on the best interest of the child, including, but not limited to, addressing the child's need for continuity and stability by preserving established patterns of care and emotional bonds. The court may order that not all parents share legal or physical custody of the child if the court finds that it would not be in the best interest of the child as provided in Sections 3011 and 3020.
Child Support Either parent may be ordered to pay an amount necessary for the support, maintenance, and education of the child. Child support payments may be awarded on a temporary basis during custody or child support proceedings. There is a mandatory minimum amount of child support which is determined by official forms which are available from the County Clerk of any county. In ordering spousal support under this part, the court shall consider all of the following circumstances:
  1. The extent to which the earning capacity of each party is sufficient to maintain the standard of living established during the marriage, taking into account all of the following:
    1. The marketable skills of the supported party; the job market for those skills; the time and expenses required for the supported party to acquire the appropriate education or training to develop those skills; and the possible need for retraining or education to acquire other, more marketable skills or employment.
    2. The extent to which the supported party's present or future earning capacity is impaired by periods of unemployment that were incurred during the marriage to permit the supported party to devote time to domestic duties.
  2. The extent to which the supported party contributed to the attainment of an education, training, a career position, or a license by the supporting party.
  3. The ability of the supporting party to pay spousal support, taking into account the supporting party's earning capacity, earned and unearned income, assets, and standard of living.
  4. The needs of each party based on the standard of living established during the marriage.
  5. The obligations and assets, including the separate property, of each party.
  6. The duration of the marriage.
  7. The ability of the supported party to engage in gainful employment without unduly interfering with the interests of dependent children in the custody of the party.
  8. The age and health of the parties.
  9. Documented evidence, including a plea of nolo contendere, of any history of domestic violence, as defined in Section 6211, between the parties or perpetrated by either party against either party's child, including, but not limited to, consideration of emotional distress resulting from domestic violence perpetrated against the supported party by the supporting party, and consideration of any history of violence against the supporting party by the supported party.
  10. The immediate and specific tax consequences to each party.
  11. The balance of the hardships to each party.
  12. The goal that the supported party shall be self-supporting within a reasonable period of time. Except in the case of a marriage of long duration as described in Section 4336, a "reasonable period of time" for purposes of this section generally shall be one-half the length of the marriage. However, nothing in this section is intended to limit the court's discretion to order support for a greater or lesser length of time, based on any of the other factors listed in this section, Section 4336, and the circumstances of the parties.
  13. The criminal conviction of an abusive spouse shall be considered in making a reduction or elimination of a spousal support award in accordance with Section 4324.5 or 4325.
  14. Any other factors the court determines are just and equitable.
Spousal Support The following circumstances are all taken into consideration when determining spousal support:
  1. The extent to which the earning capacity of each party is sufficient to maintain the standard of living established during the marriage, taking into account all of the following:
    1. The marketable skills of the supported party; the job market for those skills; the time and expenses required for the supported party to acquire the appropriate education or training to develop those skills; and the possible need for retraining or education to acquire other, more marketable skills or employment.
    2. The extent to which the supported party's present or future earning capacity is impaired by periods of unemployment that were incurred during the marriage to permit the supported party to devote time to domestic duties.
  2. The extent to which the supported party contributed to the attainment of an education, training, a career position, or a license by the supporting party.
  3. The ability of the supporting party to pay spousal support, taking into account the supporting party's earning capacity, earned and unearned income, assets, and standard of living.
  4. The needs of each party based on the standard of living established during the marriage.
  5. The obligations and assets, including the separate property, of each party.
  6. The duration of the marriage.
  7. The ability of the supported party to engage in gainful employment without unduly interfering with the interests of dependent children in the custody of the party.
  8. The age and health of the parties.
  9. Documented evidence, including a plea of nolo contendere, of any history of domestic violence, as defined in Section 6211, between the parties or perpetrated by either party against either party's child, including, but not limited to, consideration of emotional distress resulting from domestic violence perpetrated against the supported party by the supporting party, and consideration of any history of violence against the supporting party by the supported party.
  10. The immediate and specific tax consequences to each party.
  11. The balance of the hardships to each party.
  12. The goal that the supported party shall be self-supporting within a reasonable period of time. Except in the case of a marriage of long duration as described in Section 4336, a "reasonable period of time" for purposes of this section generally shall be one-half the length of the marriage. However, nothing in this section is intended to limit the court's discretion to order support for a greater or lesser length of time, based on any of the other factors listed in this section, Section 4336, and the circumstances of the parties.
  13. The criminal conviction of an abusive spouse shall be considered in making a reduction or elimination of a spousal support award in accordance with Section 4324.5 or 4325.
  14. Any other factors the court determines are just and equitable.


California Divorce Attorneys by County

California Divorce Mediators by County


DISCLAIMER:
This information has been compiled directly from the most recently available statutes online for each state. Every effort has been made to assure that this information is correct and complete. Be aware that laws frequently change. Do not take any action based on this information without first consulting an attorney to be certain that the laws pertaining to your particular situation have not changed.

The language used in most cases on this page is legal terminology taken directly from the statutes and laws of each state. The terminology is not always easy to understand. If you are not sure of something you should consult an attorney so that you can fully understand the meaning of the laws.

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