How to Finalize a Divorce in Califonia

By Wayne Thomas

In order to move on from an unsuccessful marriage, a divorce must be finalized. In California, this process can take more or less time depending on whether the divorce is uncontested, contested or obtained by default. Further, the state offers a more streamlined and quick divorce procedure for couples that meet certain requirements.

Waiting Period

By law, a divorce may not be finalized in California until six months have passed. If the couple files jointly, the clock starts at the time of filing. If only one spouse files, the clock starts when the other spouse is served with the divorce paperwork.

Summary Dissolution

In California, parties that have been married for less than five years, have limited marital property, no children and are not requesting spousal support may file for a summary dissolution. This type of divorce is faster and avoids trial. The necessary paperwork includes a Joint Petition for Summary Dissolution, Judgment of Dissolution and Notice of Entry of Judgment, and property settlement agreement. After six months have passed since the date of filing, a judge will sign the judgment and the divorce will become final.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Uncontested Divorce

If a couple does not meet the requirements for a summary dissolution, they may still avoid trial through an uncontested divorce. The required paperwork includes a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, Appearance, Stipulations and Waivers form, Declaration for Uncontested Dissolution, and Judgment with signed marital settlement agreement. If the couple has children, they must also include custody and support agreements, medical insurance information, Child Support Case Registry Form, and Order/Notice to Withhold Income. The uncontested divorce documents will provide a judge with basic information about the marriage and specify how the spouses have resolved issues related to property, support and children. If the judge finds the agreement to be adequate and fair, she will enter a judgment for divorce.

Default Divorce

In California, a divorce by default occurs when one spouse files for divorce but the other spouse does not respond or appear in court. In this case, the judge makes a ruling based on your petition alone. If more than 31 days has passed since your spouse was served with the petition and summons, you may request a judgment of divorce from the court. The process requires you to file a Request to Enter Default, Income and Expense Declaration, Property Declaration, Declaration for Default, Judgment, and Notice of Entry of Judgment. If you have minor children, you will also need a Child Custody and Visitation Order Attachment, Child Support Information and Order Attachment, Child Support Case Registry Form, and a Notice of Rights and Responsibilities. The divorce can be decided without a default hearing, unless you are receiving public assistance, requesting child or spousal support, or seeking an annulment.

Contested Divorce

When spouses cannot reach agreement, they may proceed to trial and have the matter decided by a judge. The process starts with one spouse filing a Request for Status Conference to Set Case for Trial form after the initial paperwork has been filed. A status conference will be scheduled where the parties will discuss all outstanding issues with the judge as well as set a time period for resolving pretrial matters. Next, the couple must attend a settlement conference, which represents a final opportunity to resolve remaining issues before trial. Once the judge hears the case, he will make a ruling and sign a judgment. The divorce will be considered final at that time.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
Divorce Papers for Washington State


Related articles

What Happens After You File for an Uncontested Divorce in Georgia?

An uncontested divorce in the state of Georgia requires the agreement of both spouses as to property division, spousal and child support, and visitation. Once both spouses sign off on the Martial Settlement Agreement, the judge may approve the divorce without any further action by the parties. If a final hearing is required, only one spouse appears before the judge to obtain the judge's signature on the divorce decree, after which the divorce is final.

How to Get a Quick Divorce in California

California offers a summary divorce option for ending your marriage quickly, but this doesn’t avoid the state’s six-month waiting period. Whether you qualify for a summary action or must use the state’s uncontested divorce procedure, the soonest you can finalize your marriage is six months from the date you file your petition.

How to Get an Uncontested Divorce in Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, the uncontested divorce process provides couples with the option of avoiding some of the time-consuming aspects of standard divorce. As long as the eligibility requirements are met, a couple may initiate the process together, enter into mutual agreements and often finalize their divorce within a month. To qualify in Massachusetts, you and your spouse must be on the same page regarding all the major issues related to your divorce, including property, support and child custody.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

How to Apply for a Fast Divorce in Illinois

Illinois law allows for joint simplified divorce, which requires a minimum of time and paperwork. Although this is the ...

How to Get a California Divorce Decree

Divorce law is state law; California's divorce law contains distinctive features such as the concept of community ...

An Uncontested Divorce in Kansas

Although an uncontested divorce may be less stressful and time-consuming than a contested divorce, you must ensure that ...

New York Divorce Papers

Completing and filing the appropriate paperwork can help minimize unnecessary delays in the divorce process. In New ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED