California has three different ways to end a marriage or domestic partnership: annulment, divorce, or summary dissolution. This article will focus mainly on divorce, however it is important to know which process may apply to you, if any.
An annulment is when a court says your marriage or domestic partnership was never legal in the first place, and therefore your status is like it never happened. Cases where annulment might be appropriate include those where one of the partners was already married, was too young to consent to the marriage, or was tricked or forced into the marriage, among others.
Do You Need a Reason for Divorce in California?
California has what is called a “no fault” divorce, meaning you don’t have to prove that your spouse did anything wrong in order to get divorced in Los Angeles. Instead, you can simply tell the court that you and your spouse have what are legally called “irreconcilable differences.”
The process in California begins with a Petition you can file with the court that gives it some basic information about your marriage. The Petition can also ask for orders regarding your shared property and children, if any. California also requires you to file a Summons along with the Petition.
The Summons provides important information about the divorce process for you and your spouse and can limit what you may do with your shared property, money, and other assets and debts. It may also require you to get a court order or prior written consent from your spouse before you can move out of state with your children.
Depending on your specific situation, you may need to file additional forms which can be found on the California Judicial Branch website.
What Can You Expect After I File For Divorce?
California has a mandatory 6-month waiting period before a divorce can be finalized. Under California law, this means that the divorce itself won’t be final until at least six months after all your paperwork is turned in to the court and your divorce is approved.