What are the requirements to file for divorce in the State of California?
To file for divorce in the State of California, you must both (1) be a resident of California for at least 6 months, and (2) be a resident of the county in which you are filing for at least 3 months.
State of California Residency Requirement
To file for divorce in the State of California, the filing party (also known as the Petitioner) must be a resident of California for at least 6 months. This requirement is satisfied, for example, if you and your spouse lived in California for at least 6 months prior to filing for divorce. This requirement is also satisfied if one spouse lived in California for 6 months, but the other did not. In other words, only one spouse needs to satisfy the 6 month residency requirement.
County Residency Requirement
In addition to being a resident of the State of California for at least 6 months, the filing spouse must be a resident of the county in which he/she is filing for at least 3 months. Therefore, you may file for divorce in Sacramento, CA if you have been a resident of Sacramento County for at least 3 months prior to filing. Similarly, you may file for divorce in Solano County (Fairfield Courthouse) Placer County (Roseville Courthouse), Yolo County (Woodland Courthouse), or any other county so long as you have resided in that county for at least 3 months prior to filing.
Sometimes, more than one county may qualify for filing. Suppose you lived in Sacramento County for 3 months, and your spouse lived in Solano County for at least 3 months. Provided that both parties have been a resident of the State of California for at least 6 months, either spouse may file in their respective county. In other words, you may file in Sacramento County, and your spouse may file in Solano County. In this case, the county that will serve as the venue for your divorce will depend on who is served first. If your spouse serves you first, Solano County will be the venue for the divorce (and vice-versa).
What Documents do I Need to File for Divorce in Sacramento, CA?
Whether you are filing for divorce in Sacramento County, Placer County, Yolo County, or Solano County, the documents are primarily the same. Some counties require additional local forms.
Divorce without Minor Children
To file for divorce without minor children, you must file a Summons and Petition for Dissolution. These forms may be obtained on the Judicial Council Website. All forms have a label on the top right corner of each page. The Summons is labeled "FL-110" and the Petition for Dissolution is "FL-100."
Divorce with Minor Children (Child Custody Issues are Involved)
To file for divorce with minor children, the same two documents described above are filed (Summong, and Petition for Dissolution). In addition, when children are involved, you must also file a UCCJEA - FL105. In Sacramento County, you must also include Family Law Case Demographic Worksheet.
What is the Difference Between Divorce and Legal Separation?
Divorce and legal separation are two distinct concepts. The primary differences are as follows:
- Marital Status - A divorce terminates marital status, but legal separation does not. After a judgment of dissolution is entered in a divorce, you are no longer married, and your status reverts back to single. Not so with a legal separation. In a legal separation, a judgment of legal separation is entered, but your marital status does not terminate and you are still considered married.
What is the Different Between Legal Separation and Date of Separation?
As if California Family Law is not confusing enough, the law makes a distinction between legal separation and date of separation. Legal separation is a formal proceeding that is initiated by filing a Summons and Petition for Legal Separation with the court. By filing these documents with the court, you are starting an actual court case.
By contrast, a date of separation does not require any legal filing. In fact, you don't even have to step foot in a courtroom. All that is required for a date of separation is the following:
- There is an irremediable break down in the marriage and
- There is a communication by one spouse to the other of an intent not to resume the marital relation
The day this occurs is the date of separation. Note that a date of separation does not require physical separation. It is possible to live in the same house, but still have a date of separation for purposes of family law.
What is the Significant of a Date of Separation?
Judges and divorce attorney's in Sacramento, Roseville, and Fairfield cannot stress the importance of a date of separation. Understanding the importance of the date of separation in divorce and legal separation requires a basic background in community property law.
California is a community property state. Generally, this means that all property and debt acquired during marriage and prior to separation is community property. The date of separation establishes the day the community ends. Once the community ends, acquisitions are considered separate property. Therefore, while wages earned during marriage and prior to date of separation are considered community property, wages earned after the date of separation are considered separate property. Separate property is not subject to the 50/50 division that community property is.