Filing for Divorce in California


Every day, thousands of married people in California ask themselves: should I stay or get a divorce? When a couple’s difficulties grow so large that they can’t be solved, divorce can be the best way to move forward so both people enjoy their next chapter. But it’s no easy decision or process.

Filing for Divorce in California

Filing for divorce involves lots of paperwork, and skipping even one form can mean halting the process or needing to revisit it later. But don’t be intimidated – following the process step by step can get you what you want in a time-efficient manner.

Eligibility for Filing in California

To file in California, only one of you must meet these requirements:

A resident of California for the prior 6 months

A resident of the county in California in which you’re filing for the prior 3 months

If neither of you meets these requirements, you can’t file quite yet. You must wait until you do meet these rules.

Considering a Collaborative Divorce

In a collaborative divorce, both spouses or partners agree to work together to split their assets and debts and determine the final “rules” for ending their marriage. They don’t need to do the work alone.

Understanding Collaborative Law

Collaborative law involves spouses who get legal help from trained lawyers, mediators, or other advisors (including those in the Hello Divorce family) who help couples to negotiate. Each party meets separately with their own legal helper, and then these individuals meet with one another to hammer out the details.

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Commitment to Collaboration

Both parties must agree that they will not go to court. They agree to work openly and honestly with one another during the collaboration to come to terms.

What if Collaborative Divorce Fails?

If everything goes wrong with a collaborative divorce, both parties can:

Start over

Go to court and settle things there

They will need to hire new legal assistance, though.

Seeking Outside Help for Collaboration

Going to court to solve divorce conflicts is a common practice, but it’s not the only way to end your marriage and is far from the best. People who “lawyer up” rarely get a fair outcome. Sometimes, you can work with a professional mediator, counselor, CDFA, or divorce coach and avoid the courtroom. If you use one of these services and resolve issues, you can file for an uncontested divorce, sign paperwork, and skip the courtroom.

Mediation as an Alternative

During mediation, a trained professional helps couples reach agreements they can both accept. While mediators can’t make decisions for you, they can help you come to terms with your partner, even on tricky conditions that seem impossible to resolve.

Selective Mediation

Some couples use a mediator to help them move through the whole divorce. Other spouses pick an issue or two they can’t figure out alone and use mediators to resolve those issues only.


Deciding whether to stay in a marriage or get a divorce is a significant and complex choice. In California, couples have options like collaborative divorce and mediation to navigate this challenging process. Seeking outside help from professionals can be beneficial, leading to fair outcomes and uncontested divorces that spare the courtroom experience.

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Is there a waiting period for filing divorce in California?

Yes, you or your spouse must meet the residency requirements of being a California resident for the prior 6 months or a resident of the county where you’re filing for the prior 3 months.

Can we switch from a collaborative divorce to a court-based one if needed?

Yes, if the collaborative divorce process fails, you have the option to start over or switch to a court-based divorce. However, you’ll need to hire new legal assistance.

Can mediation help us resolve all issues in our divorce?

Yes, mediation can assist in resolving a wide range of issues in your divorce, allowing both parties to come to agreements they can accept.

Can we still file for an uncontested divorce after going through mediation?

Yes, if you resolve all issues during mediation and reach an agreement, you can file for an uncontested divorce, making the process quicker and simpler.

How long does the mediation process typically take?

The duration of mediation varies depending on the complexity of the issues involved, but it generally takes a few weeks to a few months to complete.

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