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Who Can Get Divorced in California? (Residency Requirements)

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In California, for a married man and woman to file for divorce, either one of the spouses must have:

  • lived in the State of California for six (6) months and
  • lived in the county for three (3) months before starting their divorce in that county.
    (See California Family Code, Section 2320) Opens new window 

NOTE:  If someone wants to start their divorce in one county in California but does not meet residence requirements yet, he or she can file for a legal separation Opens new window first, and then amend their petition to ask for divorce after they meet the residence requirements.

For domestic partners to get a divorce:

  • If your domestic partnership is registered in California, you have automatically agreed to the jurisdiction of the California courts to end your domestic partnerships – even if you move away or have never lived in California. So, you do NOT need to meet the residence requirements that married couples must meet.
     
  • If your domestic partnership was NOT registered in California, you or your domestic partner must have lived in:
    • California for the last 6 months, and
    • The county where you plan to file the divorce for the last 3 months.
       
  • If you and your domestic partner do not live in California, when you file to end your domestic partnership in California the court may not be able to make orders about other issues like property and debt, partner support, or orders about your children. If this is your situation, talk to a lawyer with experience in domestic partnership laws. For help finding a lawyer, click here. Opens new window


For domestic partners to get a legal separation:

  • If your domestic partnership was registered in California, either one of you can file for legal separation in California, even if neither of you actually lives in California.
     
  • If your domestic partnership was NOT registered in California, you can file for legal separation in California if at least one of you is living in California.


If someone's spouse or partner lives in another state or country with any children from the relationship who are 18 years old or younger, they should consider discussing their situation with an attorney before they file any papers with the court. Interstate and international law are not covered on this website.


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