FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Here are answers to questions that people commonly ask about legal separation and divorce in California.
Is appearance in court required for a divorce to take effect?
No, couples may circumvent a court appearance if they can settle amicably. This can be accomplished by working with each other to come to a settlement agreement. Some people achieve this through the mediation process or through a process called “collaborative divorce,” in which lawyers assist the spouses or domestic partners in settling the terms of their divorce.
How quickly can a divorce be completed?
Divorce is never a speedy process. California has a mandatory six-month waiting period from the time a spouse is served with a Petition for Divorce or appears in the divorce action (whichever is first) to become a single individual. Divorce proceedings typically require more time than six months.
What happens to the pension accounts of married people who become divorced?
Pension plans are valuable, complex assets. Special rules apply to pensions, and dividing them requires careful analysis and knowledge of the process. That’s why seeking the services of Porrino Law is advisable when one or both parties have a pension to divide.
How long must I be a resident in order to be able to file for divorce?
You or your spouse must have been a resident of California for at least six months, and must have at least three months of continuous residency in the county in which you wish to file for divorce. People who do not meet that residency requirement may file for legal separation, and then can file for divorce after meeting the residency requirement.
What is the difference between annulment and divorce?
Divorce is dissolution of a marriage. Annulment is a pronouncement that a marriage or domestic partnership was not valid — and therefore, that the marriage never legally existed. Only certain conditions qualify for annulment, including bigamy, incest, fraud, physical or mental incapacitation at the time of marriage, or forced marriage.
Must both parties be willing to divorce in order for divorce proceedings to begin?
California law does not require consent of both parties to divorce. An unwilling spouse or domestic partner cannot prevent initiation of divorce proceedings. A petitioner whose spouse refuses to participate in divorce proceedings can be granted a default judgment ending the marriage.
To be eligible for divorce, must I prove that my spouse has committed misconduct of some kind?
California is a “no fault” divorce state, so criminal behavior, adultery, or proof of some other action by your spouse is not a prerequisite for divorce. Inability to get along with each other — known legally as “irreconcilable differences” — qualifies as grounds for divorce.