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Divorce, Separation, Nullity, ETC.

Self-Help Divorce, Separation, Nullity, ETC.

Residency requirement: To obtain a divorce in California, you or your spouse or partner must have lived in California for the last six months, and have lived for the last three months in the county where you file for divorce.

No "fault" required: No one has to prove that either spouse or partner is "guilty" or "innocent".

Dissolution of Marriage (Divorce)

A dissolution of marriage, which is more commonly known as divorce, terminates the marriage and resolves marital issues including child custody, visitation, child support, spousal support, asset and debt division (real and personal property), former name restoration, restraining orders, and other issues identified by the parties. It is not necessary that both persons agree to end the relationship. One spouse or partner cannot make the other stay in a relationship.

It takes a minimum of six months from the date the divorce papers are served (given) to the other party before a divorce can be final. However, you are not automatically divorced at the end of six months. At least one spouse or partner must complete the required legal process and obtain a written judgment.

For more information on dissolutions, click here.

Summary Dissolution

If you and your spouse are in agreement that you want to divorce, you may be able to obtain a summary dissolution. The criteria for a summary dissolution include:

For more information about this option, which is less complicated than a regular dissolution of marriage, click here.

Legal Separation

Legal Separation is a legal action filed by a married person or domestic partner who wants to stay married or in the domestic partnership, but also wants to resolve all other issues, such as child custody, child and spousal support, and property division.

There are no residency requirements for obtaining a legal separation.

Sometimes a person will file a legal separation because he/she does not meet the residency requirement for filing for a divorce. Then, after the residency requirements are met, the action is amended from a legal separation to a divorce.

Sometimes people stay in a marriage or domestic partnership for religious reasons, or to be able to retain medical insurance benefits for a spouse or partner.

For more information on legal separations, click here.


A nullity is more commonly known as an annulment of marriage. This may only be requested if a party alleges incest, bigamy, a minor without parental consent, unsound mind, fraud, force or incapacity to consummate marriage. An annulment restores the parties to the status of single persons, as though they were never married.

Domestic Partnership

Dissolution of a domestic partnership terminates the partnership. You must be a resident of the State of California; both parties do not have to agree to the dissolution; and it takes a minimum of six months for this action to become final.

For more information on domestic partnerships, click here.

  • You were married for under five years;

  • There were no children born during the marriage; and

  • You have very few community assets and debts.

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