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Dissolution of Marriage


Our attorneys are licensed to practice law in the State of California. The answers given on this webpage only relate to the law of the State of California. For any other states, please contact lawyers in specific jurisdictions.

How long does it take for a divorce to be final?
It takes at least six months from the earlier of (a) the date the Summons and Petition are served on the Respondent or (b) the date of appearance of the Respondent.
Is it possible to have a divorce judgment within a couple of months?
Sometimes, both parties agree to all the terms of the divorce before the expiration of six months waiting period. In this case, the parties can settle their case and have a divorce judgment before the six months expire, but they will not be divorced until six months had run.
Summary Dissolution of Marriage
Summary dissolution is a much easier way to get divorced. The court requires less paperwork in this process. With this procedure, the parties will not have to appear in court. However, this action is very limited and can only be used by a married couple that meets the following requirements:

  • The parties have been married less than 5 years between the date of marriage and the date of separation.
  • The parties have no minor children together and the wife, to her knowledge, is not pregnant as of the date the case is filed.
  • Neither party has any interest / ownership in real estate.
  • The parties’ community property is not worth more than $40,000 (not including cars).
  • Neither party has separate property worth more than $40,000 (not including cars).
  • The total of the parties’ community debts (other than cars) is $6,000 or less.
  • Parties do not want spousal support from each other.
  • Spouses agree on how their assets and debts are going to be divided.

Of course, as with a regular divorce, the general jurisdictional requirements to file for dissolution of marriage in California must also be satisfied, as follows:

  • At least one of the spouses has lived in California for the last six months and in the county where the case is filed for the last three months preceding filing of the action, or
  • If the spouses are the same sex and were married in California but are not residents of California and neither of them lives in a place that will allow them to divorce, then they can file the Summary Dissolution of Marriage case in the county in which they were married.

What do I do if I was served with divorce papers?
If you have been served with divorce paperwork, you have 30 days to file a Response with the court. A Response is a document, which tells the court that you are interested in the outcome of the divorce proceedings, that you wish to be notified of any court date, and that you will be participating in the divorce process by appearing in court to help the judge make decisions.
What happens if I do not File a Response to the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage?
If a Response is not filed, the matter is decided by default. This means that the court decides the outcome of the case based upon only one side’s versions of the facts. Therefore, when there is property or children involved, it is very important to file a Response.
What are the differences between dissolution of marriage and a legal separation?
There are several differences between a legal separation and a divorce. To list a few:

  • The main difference is that a judgment of legal separation does not terminate marital status (i.e., neither party can enter into a new marriage until the existing marriage is dissolved by death of the other party or by a judgment of dissolution.) Most of the time, the parties obtain legal separation when the spouses do not want to live together but cannot divorce for religious or personal reasons. For example, one of the parties has a preexisting medical condition (for which new coverage would not be available) and wants to retain eligibility for medical insurance available through the other spouse’s.
  • There is no waiting period in a legal separation.
  • Both spouses have to agree to a legal separation (i.e., if one spouse wants a separation, but the other spouse wants a divorce, legal separation may not be granted.)

I got married outside of the State of California. Can I get a divorce in California?
Yes, you can. However, the residence requirements must be satisfied. In order to file for dissolution of marriage, at least one spouse must have lived in California for at least six months and in the county where the Petition is filed for at least three months. If you just moved into this state and want to get a divorce as soon as possible, please contact our California divorce attorney, as there are some legal ways to “get around” these residence requirements.
How do I request the Court to make orders?
You will need to file a Request for Order (form FL-300) and to go to a court hearing. In the paperwork, you ask for a specific, temporary relief, which will be good until the trial or next court order. Usually, the relief is for child custody, visitation, child support, or spousal support. At the court hearing, the judge will decide whether he/she will give you temporary relief that you requested.
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