What requirements must I meet to get a divorce?

If you have decided that ending your marriage is your best path forward, it may be helpful to consider your eligibility to get a divorce. When you and your spouse were married, there were likely certain requirements you had to meet for that marriage to become legal. There are also requirements you must meet to legally end your marriage.


To be eligible to file for divorce in California, you must have lived in the state for the past six months. In addition, you must have lived for the last three months in the county where you are filing.

If you do not meet these residency requirements, you can wait to file for divorce until you do meet those requirements. Alternatively, you can file for a legal separation. A legal separation will not end your marriage, but will allow you and your spouse to live separately until you meet the residency requirements.


Before granting a divorce, some states require a spouse to prove that the other spouse committed some sort of misconduct during the marriage. California historically used a system like this. However, it is now a no-fault divorce state.

This means that you can get a divorce if you and your spouse have irreconcilable differences. You do not need to assign blame for the divorce or prove that your spouse is guilty.

Waiting period

After you file for divorce, there may be a waiting period. Your divorce cannot be finalized for six months following the date your spouse was served the petition and summons for dissolution.

You may use that time to work out some of the details associated with your divorce, such as division of community property or child custody. However, every divorce takes a different amount of time. In some cases, it could take over a year for a couple to resolve all relevant issues and finalize their divorce.

Every marriage is unique, so every divorce is unique also. It can be difficult to predict the exact divorce experience of any one couple. However, if you believe divorce may be in your future, having an understanding of California’s requirements for divorce can help you plan the best actions for your situation.

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