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What Are Residency Requirements for Divorce in California?

Divorces in California aren't quick by any means. Last week, we covered the Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver divorce that has lasted three years. While that length of time is longer than some others, it does bring up questions about divorce time frames. One of the time frames that must be met in California is the residency requirement.

What are the residency requirements for a divorce?

In order to file for a divorce in California, you or your soon-to-be ex-spouse have to live in the state for at least six months. On top of that, you have to live in the county where you will file for the divorce for at least three months. Of course, those are just basic guidelines.

What if I don't meet the residency requirements?

You can't file for divorce if you don't meet the residency requirements for a divorce in California. Instead, you can file a petition for a legal separation. Once you have lived in the area long enough to meet both residency requirements, you can amend the petition to seek a divorce.

Are there same-sex marriage exceptions?

Same-sex marriages are a bit tricky if the partners don't live in California but got married in California. In that case, California will accept divorce petitions in certain circumstances. One of the criteria is that the state in which you live now mustn't dissolve a same-sex marriage. If you live in a state that won't end your marriage, you can file a divorce petition in the county in which you were married. Even then, the court is limited as to what it can order as part of the divorce settlement.

Source: California Courts, "Options to End Marriage or Domestic Partnership" Oct. 12, 2014