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Is There a Waiting Period to File for Divorce in California?

Education, career, opportunity, family, and friends can all influence our journeys and inspire us to move from one state to another, even multiple times throughout our lives.

When significant changes occur, we must make decisions like buying or selling a home or finding new schools for our children. While these are all things we can plan from afar — thanks to technology — we rarely consider how these changes will affect our marriages or limit our ability to divorce.

At the Land Legal Group, our Los Angeles family law attorneys are dedicated to providing the resources our California residents need to pursue a divorce, even when they are new to the Golden State.

What Are the California Residency Requirements to File for Divorce?

If you are new to the state or are a longtime resident who was married in another state, you may have questions about our California divorce residency requirements, should one or both of you decide to end the marriage.

The good news is, you both do not have to be California residents to file for a divorce, which is satisfying news for those who may have moved to start a new life.

However, the spouse filing for divorce in California must be a resident.

Our California Courts require the person filing for divorce to meet the following conditions.

Either you or your spouse must have lived in both the State of California and a single county for:

  • The last six months in the state
  • The last three months in the county you are filing from

If you and your spouse are California residents for six months but live in different counties for the required three months, you may file for divorce in either county.

If I Do Not Meet the Residency Requirements for Divorce in California, Must I File in the State We Were Married?

Each state has residency requirements to file for divorce, which includes the state in which you were married. They may differ from California’s residency requirements, so it is important to research the state in which you were married to determine if returning to the state to file for divorce is a feasible solution.

You do not have to go back to the state that issued your marriage license to file for divorce, but you will have to meet the residency requirements before the courts will hear your case.

What Are Our Options If We Do Not Meet the California Divorce Residency Requirements?

When one spouse — or even both spouses — determines that divorce is the only way forward, they may want to get the process started right away. Typically, once the decision to divorce is made, couples want to get it over with as quickly as possible.

When residency requirements interrupt your ability to file for divorce, there are a couple of alternatives you may entertain.

Keep in mind, you must file in the state where one of you can fulfill the residency requirements.

If you are the one who moved to California, and your spouse stayed in another state, it may be beneficial to ask him or her to file for divorce, so there is no waiting period to get started.

You can also file for a legal separation if you do not meet the residency requirements, which can jumpstart the process of the split. Once you meet the residency requirements, you may amend the petition and legally file for divorce.

What Can I Do While Waiting for the California Residency Requirement for Divorce to Be Fulfilled?

The California residency requirement for divorce can provide the time you need to get your affairs in order and partner with an experienced Los Angeles divorce attorney who will develop an advanced legal strategy outlining your complete physical and financial needs.

At the Land Legal Group, our Los Angeles County family law attorneys will create solutions for each part of your divorce, including your spousal support needs, and the details surrounding child custody and child support when applicable.

The residency requirement waiting period is the perfect opportunity to strengthen your case and ensure each aspect of your divorce are aligned with your future needs.

If you are a new or existing California resident and are considering divorce, contact our Los Angeles family law attorneys today by calling (310) 552-3500 to schedule a free consultation and discover how we can help you confidently plan for your future.

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