How do you get a divorce in California?
Take a trip to your local family law courthouse or the family law department within the local courthouse. In California, the court operates a “facilitators” office to assist those who choose to represent themselves.
1. Make every effort toward reconciliation, or at least explaining your intentions to your spouse. The angrier he or she is, the uglier your divorce will be.
2. Consult an attorney (most will meet for an initial consultation just to explain the process and your immediate options) or research the divorce process in your local area. Divorce laws differ among states, and each county may have different local rules.
3. Take a trip to your local family law courthouse or the family law department within the local courthouse. In California, the court operates a “facilitators” office to assist those who choose to represent themselves.
4. Gather your financial documents, including tax returns for the last five years, all retirement accounts and all financial accounts.
5. Close or freeze joint accounts. You and your spouse may want to divide all accounts equally, assuming that the funds accumulated during your marriage.
6. Keep track of all debts incurred or paid (credit cards, repairs to the family home, and so forth) once you separate from your spouse.
7. Keep track of any money that you give to your spouse as “alimony” or child support, and write checks rather than give cash.
8. Determine whether alimony (spousal support) or child support is warranted. If you are the spouse in need of support, make sure to initiate court proceedings, because you won’t receive support until you file (consult an attorney or other resource).
9. Realize that most states have waiting periods between the time you file for divorce and the time your divorce will be final. In California, the waiting period is six months, so if you’re committed to divorcing, you should file sooner rather than later.
10. Research pension plans, retirement accounts and other savings accounts. You may not be aware of all the plans to which your spouse contributes, or to which his or her employer contributes on his or her behalf.
11. Negotiate a custody plan if children are involved; you will have to. Most courts offer free assistance (in California, the court offers mediation) to help the parents work out a plan without having to appear before a judge
Prior to the no-fault divorce revolution, a divorce could be obtained only through a showing of fault of one of the parties in a marriage. This was something more than not loving one another; it meant that one spouse had to plead that the other had committed adultery, abandonment, felony, or other similarly culpable acts. However, the other spouse could plead a variety of defenses, like recrimination (essentially an accusation of “so did you”). A judge could find that the respondent had not committed the alleged act or the judge could accept the defense of recrimination and find both spouses at fault for the dysfunctional nature of their marriage.
“No-fault” divorce was pioneered in the United States by the state of California when Governor Ronald Reagan signed into law the Family Law Act of 1969 on September 4, 1969 (effective January 1, 1970). The Act abolished California’s common law action for divorce and replaced it with the proceeding for dissolution of marriage on the grounds of irreconcilable differences. The grounds of irreconcilable differences were accepted as true, based on the assertions of one of the parties to the marriage, and thus the Family Law Act of 1969 eliminated the showing-of-fault requirements to obtain a divorce both for spouses seeking a divorce by mutual consent, and in cases where only one of the parties to the marriage wants a divorce
This divorce package includes (1) Information about Divorce, (2) Forms List, (3) Forms Explanations, (4) Instructions and Steps, (5) Checklist, (6) Forms and (7) Access to Divorce Law Summary for Your State. The forms include the required petition or complaint, waiver, separation agreement, financial reporting statements, judgment and other forms to complete your divorce. This is a package which allows you to download the full gamet of documents necessary to obtain a divorce in California.