Some couples may choose not to pursue divorce due to religious beliefs, personal convictions, or financial considerations, opting to remain married for reasons such as maintaining a spouse or domestic partner on an insurance or benefit plan. In certain cases, a spouse may file for legal separation as a preliminary step, especially when they do not yet meet the residency requirements for divorce.

California's divorce residency requirement mandates that one of the spouses must have lived in the state for the past 6 months and at least 3 months in the county where the case is filed. Conversely, for legal separation, only one spouse needs to reside in California, without a specific time requirement. If a spouse desires a divorce but does not want to wait to meet residency requirements, they can initially file for legal separation and subsequently amend the petition once residency criteria are met.

In California, divorces are initiated through a court case, and the state follows a "no-fault divorce" approach, where it is unnecessary to prove wrongdoing to obtain a divorce. This means you can seek a divorce even if the other party does not agree.

To file for divorce in California, either you or your spouse must have lived in the state for the past 6 months and in the current county for the past 3 months. The filing process incurs a fee ranging from $435 to $450, with the option to apply for a fee waiver if needed. After filing, you must share the divorce papers with your spouse through official legal means.

Serving court papers is an essential step to notify the other party about the initiated court case. To conclude the divorce, spouses must share financial information, and reach agreements on property division, financial matters, and child care and support. If consensus cannot be reached, or one party refuses to participate, the court can make decisions on these matters.

The final step involves submitting the necessary paperwork to the court and initiating a waiting period of at least 6 months before the divorce becomes legally final.

For those navigating the complexities of divorce or legal separation, we provide support and guidance, ensuring access to justice for individuals and families with low and fixed incomes.