Scales, books, and gavel of a divorce attorney in San Jose, CA

A divorce , also called “dissolution of marriage” or “dissolution of domestic partnership”), ends your marriage or domestic partnership . After divorce, you will be single, and you can marry or become a domestic partner again.

As many people know California is a "no-fault" divorce state.  You can get a divorce if you say you have “irreconcilable differences” with your spouse or domestic partner. You do not have to give the court any other reason or prove anything. There is no “guilty” or “non-guilty” person from the court’s point of view. 

The only thing the court is interested in is helping the separating spouses or partners reach a fair agreement about how their life will be restructured after the divorce so they can move ahead to rebuild their lives.

Divorces can include negotiations and/or court orders concerning child custody and visitation, child support, spousal/partner support, division of property, and who will be responsible for debts. 

The divorce process can take at least six months from the date the person filing for divorce officially lets his or her spouse or domestic partner know about the divorce. Though cases can  take longer.   This is a mandatory waiting period required by California law.

Summary dissolution
Some couples that have been married or in a registered domestic partnership for less than 5 years can get a “summary dissolution” as long as they also meet other requirements. A summary dissolution is an easier way to end your marriage or domestic partnership (or both). 

California residency requirements for divorce

For married persons to get a divorce:

You must meet California’s residency requirements. Either you or your spouse must have lived in California for the six months AND the county where you plan to file the divorce for the last three months.

If you and your spouse have lived in California for at least 6 months but in different counties for at least three months, you can file in either county.

If you do not meet the residency requirement, you can still file for a legal separation. Once enough time has passed so that you meet the residency requirement for a divorce, you may file an “amended petition” and ask the court for a divorce.

EXCEPTION: Same-sex married couples who got married in California but do not live in California and live in a state (or states) that will not dissolve a same-sex marriage, can file to end their same-sex marriage in California, regardless of these residency requirements. You must file in whichever county you were married. Keep in mind that if neither of you lives in California, the court may not be able to make orders about other issues like property and debt, partner support, or your children. If this is your situation, talk to a lawyer with experience in same-sex marriage laws. 


Divorce is a complicated process that deserves the attention and care of an experienced attorney.  At Law Office James Chau we have the knowledge and the experience to guide you through the process every step of the way.  Please set up a free consultation to discuss your situation.