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What is the divorce process in California?

Every day, couples are divorcing. The American Community Survey released by the United States Census Bureau reported that in California, close to 113,000 women divorced, while almost 98,000 men split with their spouses. 

In California, the entire divorce process takes no less than six months from the filing date. Six months is the mandatory waiting period required by California law. The procedure requires the parties to: 

  1. Answer questions

When starting the procedure, a spouse may need to answer several questions. Those questions are: 

  • Is the petition for a divorce, legal separation or annulment? 
  • Does the marriage qualify for summary dissolution? 
  • Where is the petition filed? 
  • How much will the divorce cost? 
  1. Decide the terms

If they agree, spouses may split the filing fees. Any attempt at mediation may make the divorce easier. Issues brought up during negotiations may include child support and custody, spousal support and property division. If the couple can agree, they may not need to go before a judge. 

  1. File the paperwork

The petitioner fills out the required forms and files them with the court clerk. The original goes into a file to start the case and the petitioner receives the copies marked “Filed.” If the petitioner cannot afford the fee, he or she can apply for a waiver. 

The spouse receives a copy of the divorce paperwork and sends a proof of service to the petitioner who then files it with the court clerk. The respondent may then need to decide whether to file a response within 30 days of service. If so, the spouse may take the documents to the court clerk. 

  1. Get the decision

Along with the original petition, the parties may file a preliminary declaration of disclosure, which may help with dividing any property or debt. The court must approve and sign the terms in the divorce judgment. The court may decide on any issues that the spouses cannot agree on. 



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