As with any jurisdiction, when you are filing for a divorce, you must meet some residency requirements. In California, you or your spouse must have lived in California for six months and in the county where you decide to file your case for at least three mounts.

If you do not meet this residency requirement, your option is to file for legal separation and then file an amended petition once you meet the residency requirements.

How Long Will it Take to Get a Divorce in California?

This really depends on how complicated the issues are in your divorce case. On average, your divorce will take six months to finalize. It can take longer if there are contested issues concerning child custody and visitation and distribution of property. These may require additional court evaluation, paperwork, and analysis that can extend the process.

Is there any Advantage to Filing for Divorce First in California?

Experts disagree whether there are really any advantages to filing for divorce first. On the one hand, by filing first, you are revealing your strategy, which will give the responding spouse time to adjust their strategy. On the other hand, the spouse who files first has control over taking the first step in declaring the end of the marriage.

Notwithstanding, a first filer may find the following to be additional advantages:

  • Emotional and Financial Readiness: By filing first, you are announcing that you are emotionally and mentally ready to begin the process. Particularly if there has been any abuse in the marriage, this can be important for the filing spouse. You are also choosing to file for divorce when you are financially prepared to do so rather than being blindsided.
  • Choosing Venue: If you meet the residency requirement, you get to choose which county to file for divorce. Your attorney may feel this is an advantage if they are used to dealing with certain judges who might be more favorable to your case. Even, if your spouse lives in another state or county, you can choose a venue that is convenient for you to get to and from the courthouse.
  • Choosing an Attorney: When you are planning something as emotional and financially draining as a divorce, you want to make sure you find the right attorney to help you through this difficult time. You can take your time to consider a number of attorneys before deciding who is the right one to handle your divorce.
  • Narrative: You get to tell your story first and set the tone for the divorce. Sometimes first impressions can be important for how the rest of the proceeding plays out.
  • Protecting Your Interests: You can begin gathering documents to address issues in the case like child custody, distribution of property and spousal support. Furthermore, if you are concerned your spouse may hide assets or deplete your finances in retaliation, you can start to protect yourself by filing for an order to prevent your spouse from doing so.
  • Temporary Awards: When you file first, you can request temporary child and spousal support and request that you and your children live in the house. Since you filed first, you will have been prepared with the best arguments to show the court why you should be granted these temporary awards.

What Documents Should I Get Copies of for My Divorce?

Your divorce will depend heavily on the documents and testimony offered during the proceeding to support your petition for a divorce. If you are filing for a divorce, at a minimum you should begin gathering copies of the following documents:

  • Deeds, bank statements, life insurance policies, and credit card statements;
  • Vehicle registrations;
  • Retirement accounts; and
  • Any recent loan applications

What are Things I Can Do if I am Thinking of Filing For a Divorce?

Besides starting to gather important documents and identifying the right attorney, there are things you should do if you are considering getting a divorce. Begin to identify all the marital assets that might be subject to distribution during the divorce. Determine what custody and spousal support requests you will make. Plan ahead for finances you will need to see you through to the end of the divorce proceeding.

What Does it Mean When I am Granted My Divorce?

Once your divorce is final, the judgment of divorce will indicate the date of the end of your marriage. The divorce decree also will state who has primary custody of any children, provide a schedule for visitation, and order child support or spousal support. The court’s determination about dividing the marital property will also be outlined in the order.

Do I Need to Hire a Lawyer for Help with a Divorce in California?

Divorces can be quite complicated. You should consult with a California lawyer to help you identify whether there are advantages based on your circumstances to file for a divorce first. In addition, an attorney can help you prepare for the long process ahead in a manner that is least disruptive to you.