Divorce in California

Whether you’ve been thinking about divorce for a long time or you’re just beginning to explore your options, you’re in the right place. The divorce process involves three major steps (filing, serving, and then working out a settlement agreement and other divorce terms). However, rules, forms, and fees vary by state or even by county. Scroll down this page to find our most useful (and free) resources to guide you before, during, and after divorce in California. 

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Important Information About Divorce in California

Filing for divorce in California is relatively simple, but actually getting divorced requires a long list of forms. But no need to get overwhelmed – we explain all the steps to you and our Divorce Navigator software guides you through all the forms. If you get stuck, we can help. To get started, check out some of our most helpful resources for divorce in the state of California. 

Watch: Everything you need to know about divorce in California

Top Resources for Divorce in California

California Marriage & Divorce Laws

You're not required to find fault with your partner to get a California divorce; simply cite irreconcilable differences as your grounds for ending your marriage. There are several laws and state rules to be aware of, though. See our resources below for key information.

Resources for Marriage and Divorce Laws in California

Finances, Property and Support

One of the most stressful parts of divorce is deciding who gets what and determining who must pay off marital debt. Spouses must reach agreements on things like splitting assets and debts, either on their own or with outside help from a mediator, financial advisor or attorney.

California is a community property state, meaning that assets you acquire during your marriage should be split 50/50, although spouses who can decide out of court are able to split things as they see fit. See our top resources to help you figure out your divorce finances below.

Community Property

California’s community property rules ensure that couples split assets and debts acquired during marriage fairly in a divorce. While the concept is simple, determining what is communal and what is separate – and who keeps what – can be tricky.

Spousal Support

Spousal support (alimony) is a monetary amount one party pays the other during or after divorce. The goal is to help both spouses maintain a similar lifestyle to the one they had as married. Spousal support isn't required in California, but there are some rules to be aware of.

Child Custody

Couples should decide where children live and when, parental visitation schedules, and other logistics around who gets the children, where, and when. Couples can get granular and decide everything or keep the terms more open.

How File for Child Support

Do you need financial help with child-related expenses? A spouse with custody must feed, house, and otherwise care for the children. Child support payments can help make this possible if the custodial parent has a limited income.

Legal Separation

Couples who don't want to get divorced but opt to live apart can get a legal separation. They should still set up finances and property arrangements to avoid conflicts over assets and debts.

Other Important Topics about Divorce in California 

Just as every couple is different, so is every divorce. Some couples can use checklists and other free resources to DIY their divorce through the California court system, while others need more help. 

Others, including couples with at least one spouse in the military or couples with complicated scenarios (substantial assets, debts, custody concerns, an uncooperative spouse), must follow additional rules.

Some couples that have a simple divorce (minimal assets, no children, etc.) can use a summary dissolution to end their marriages more quickly and easily than a standard divorce. 

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