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Residency Requirements: Giving Spouses Time to Think

Divorce is not something to be rushed into. This is because divorce usually involves strong emotions, lawyer fees, time in court, the complicated process of dividing assets, and the emotionally charged and sometimes heartbreaking allocation of a child’s time between the parents. Spouses considering divorce should think carefully about whether this action is necessary or whether the marriage can still be saved. California law, for its part, helps spouses avoid rushing into divorce by imposing a legal residency requirement. In order to file for divorce in California, at least one the spouse must have been a California resident for a minimum of six months.

If one spouse is already a legal resident of the state, the requirement naturally does not help to stall a divorce. But for those couples who may have rushed to California to get married or are facing difficulties in their existing marriage after moving into the Golden State, the residency requirement can be very useful. In either of these two cases, one or both of the spouses must first obtain California residency before they can file for dissolution of their marriage, and that takes six months of living here to achieve.
In addition to state residency requirements, California law also enforces county residency requirements. Those filing for divorce in a particular county must have been a resident of that county for three months immediately beforehand. If spouses are not residents of a particular county, their ability to legally file for dissolution of their marriage in that county will begin three months from the date residency is obtained. Together, state and county residency requirements are designed to slow the divorce process and give couples who have recently moved to the state or into a new county time to think. With some time to cool off, perhaps divorce can be avoided. To obtain more information on this subject please feel free to call the attorneys at Feinberg & Waller.