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When you decide to end your marriage, you likely have questions about the process of divorce. Knowing what to expect can help ease some of the stress of this often difficult time.

Review the basics about filing for divorce in California if you are preparing to separate from your spouse.

Requesting a divorce

Either spouse can file for divorce in California. The state does not consider fault when granting a divorce. If the other spouse fails to respond to the divorce petition, the judge will issue a default divorce to end the marriage.

A couple can also request a summary dissolution. You have this option if your marriage or domestic partnership lasted fewer than five years. To qualify, you cannot have children or own real estate together. You must have less than $6000 in shared debt, less than $45,000 in shared property and less than $45,000 each in separate property. You must also complete a divorce agreement outside of court and both parties must agree to waive spousal support.

Reaching a divorce agreement

You must come to a settlement with your spouse about important issues such as property division and alimony. If you have children together, you must also decide on child custody and support. You can attempt to reach an agreement out of court or you can ask the state to issue a decision if you cannot agree.

After you file for divorce, California has a six-month waiting period to finalize the divorce agreement. You must complete all necessary paperwork and requirements before the state will legally end your marriage.