Getting a Divorce in California: Requirements and Technical Terms Explained

A divorcing couple

There are certain conditions that you need to fulfill if you’re considering retaining a Chico divorce lawyer.

Before you start your divorce proceedings, you should familiarize yourself with the process you’ll need to go through and understand the relevant terminology.

Here’s our comprehensive guide to getting a divorce in California:

The Basics of a Divorce in California

  • The legal term for a divorceis ‘dissolution of marriage’.
  • The concept of ‘no-fault divorce’ was first implemented in California. This means that to end a marriage, neither party needs to prove that their spouse engaged in infidelity, spousal abuse, or domestic violence. The fact that one spouse wishes to get a divorce is enough to start legal proceedings for the same.
  • Legally, a no-fault divorce is granted on the basis of ‘irreconcilable differences’ between the spouses. Irreconcilable differencesare commonly cited in most celebrity divorces.

The Legal Requirements of a Divorce in California

The following requirements must be met for divorce in California:

State Residency

At least one of the spouses should be a California resident for a minimum of 6 months before filing for a divorce.

County Residency

The law also requires at least one spouse’s residency in a California county for a minimum of three months, before a divorce petition can be filed there.

Response Time

When you’re served with divorce papers (petition and summons), the law gives you 30 days to respond.

Divorce proceedings in California aren’t halted if one spouse doesn’t respond, doesn’t participate, or doesn’t want to get a divorce.

In such cases, you or your spouse will be able to get a ‘default’ judgment from the court, and your divorce will be granted.

Technical Terms Explained

Petition and Summons

A petition is a court form that contains some basic information about your marriage. It also makes specific requests of the court regarding your children or assets.

Summons informs the respondent of their rights and responsibilities during the divorce process.

True Default

If you choose not to respond at all to a divorce petition filed by your spouse, it’ll be considered a ‘true default’.

Essentially, you’re forfeiting your right to participate in the case.

Default with Agreement

Alternatively, you might not respond to a divorce petition because you already have a written and notarized agreement with your spouse to end your marriage.

A couple meeting a divorce lawyer Chico, CA

Such cases are considered a ‘default with agreement’.

Uncontested Divorce

If you file a response through your divorce attorney in Chico, CA, but have also reached an agreement with your spouse concerning all aspects of the marriage, it’s an ‘uncontested divorce’.

Uncontested divorces are typically amicable.

Contested Divorce

When you and your spouse fail to reach an agreement and need the court to intervene and make decisions for you, it’s considered a ‘contested divorce’.

At The Law Offices of Ron Marquez, you can benefit from the expertise of an experienced divorce lawyer in Chico, CA. Whether you’re looking for a trusted family lawyer in Chico, CA, or need help with child custody and child support terms, get in touch with us today.


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