Filing for (and finalizing) a divorce is a complex legal process that often takes a significant amount of time, resources, and stress. Having an experienced lawyer at your side can help you pursue an outcome that benefits you in both the short and long-term.
At Feinberg & Waller, APC, our current Calabasas lawyers have over 150 years of combined legal experience helping clients navigate the divorce process. We'll advocate for your rights and help you develop an effective case strategy to achieve your goals.
Grounds for Divorce in California
To file for divorce in California, at least one party must have been a resident of the state for at least six months.
California is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that you can simply cite "irreconcilable differences" as grounds for divorce when filing to dissolve your marriage. However, the court may consider other factors such as adultery or domestic violence during divorce-related processes such as child custody or spousal support.
Uncontested Vs. Contested Divorce in California
The process of actually filing for divorce varies depending on whether you file for a contested or uncontested divorce.
To file for an uncontested divorce, the parties must agree on terms for the divorce. This involves drafting an agreement that lays out the terms for the divorce, which the court can then approve to finalize the divorce.
If the parties disagree on any element of the divorce, they must file for a contested divorce instead. Typically, once a party files for a contested divorce, one of two things happens:
- The parties engage in a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), such as mediation, to resolve their differences. If successful, they can draft an agreement and file for an uncontested divorce.
- The parties fail to negotiate and choose to litigate the divorce in court. After each party presents their case, the court makes a final decision and drafts a legally binding divorce decree containing terms for processes such as custody, child and spousal support, property division, etc.
The person who intends to file for a divorce is called the "petitioner," as they file a petition for divorce to initiate the process. To file for divorce, you must obtain divorce paperwork and file them with the county court. You can fill out the paperwork by yourself, but an attorney can make the process easier. Filling out the paperwork involves gathering and submitting various information to the court, including tax returns, bank statements, mortgage statements, real estate deeds, car registration, and more.
After filling out and filing the documents with the court, a third party, such as a process server or sheriff, must serve the other party (the "respondent") with a copy of the divorce petition. After being served, the respondent must file a Response and Acknowledgment Receipt to begin the divorce process.
How Long Will My Divorce Take?
A factor that can impact the length and cost of your divorce significantly:
- The number of factors playing a role in the divorce. For example, if assets of considerable value or children play a role in the divorce, it may take longer to finalize.
Divorce is one of the most complex divorce-related processes, and having an attorney you can rely on by your side is crucial to obtain the best result.
At Feinberg & Waller, APC, our attorneys have more than a 150 years of experience helping clients navigate complex divorces. We'll help you find the best path forward in your divorce, advocating for your rights and best interests.
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