California Divorce – Residency Requirements


Filing for divorce can be a complicated process with varying degrees of complexity depending upon your situation and the state you live in, as divorce laws differ from state to state. When filing for divorce in California, you must determine if you meet specific mandated residency requirements.

You do not have to file for a divorce in the same state you were married, but the length of time you have been a resident in California or another state may make a difference. If you and your spouse are filing for divorce, working with a lawyer can help you to navigate the complex family court system. 

One of the many common questions regarding divorce in California is the residency requirement rule. In this article, we will discuss the residency requirements to file for divorce in California and what your options are if you do not meet them.

Understanding The California Residency Requirement For Divorce

California divorce laws clearly outline the steps for anyone wanting to file for divorce. The first step is for the petitioner (individual filing for the divorce or separation) to file the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage (Form FL-100) with the civil courts in the county they have lived in for the last three months.

When filing for divorce in California, you must meet the strict residency requirements, which mandate that you or your spouse must have lived in California for the last six months and lived in the county where you intend to file the divorce for the previous three months; this is not negotiable. You also must sign the document under oath declaring that you or your spouse fulfills the state’s residency requirement.

If you or your spouse has been a resident of California for a minimum of six months but not a resident of your county for three months, then file in whichever county you lived in previously for a minimum of three months.

You and your spouse are not required to reside together to file for divorce, and you may live in separate counties as long as one of you has been a resident in one county for a minimum of three months before filing for divorce. The courts will accept the petition if you are within the required time frame.

However, if neither of you meets these requirements, the court will deny your request to file, and you must find an alternative route for your divorce; however, you may still file for legal separation. Speaking with a California divorce attorney who can help answer any questions you may have is essential.

Exceptions To The California Residency Requirement Rule For Divorce

The exception to the residency requirement rule is for same-sex couples who were married in California but are currently residents in a state that does not recognize same-sex marriages and will not dissolve them. In this case, you may get a divorce in California regardless of the residency requirements. 

To file for a divorce, simply file in the county where you were married.

The other situation is that if you and your spouse are in a registered domestic partnership in California, you do not need to meet the residency requirement rule as a married couple. However, if neither of you meets the requirement, even though the court could end your partnership, it may not be able to make decisions regarding children, property, or support.

You must meet the residency requirements if your domestic partnership is not registered in California.

Alternative Solutions For Divorce In California

  • Suppose you want a divorce in California but do not meet the residency requirement rule. In that case, you may file for a legal separation until you establish residency in California and can meet the requirements for divorce.
  •  Perhaps you may not meet the requirements, but your spouse does. In this case, you may ask your spouse to file for a divorce; otherwise, you must wait.
  • Should you meet the residency requirements in a different state, you can also return to that stature and file for a divorce. Make sure to check the residency requirements of the State first to be sure.

Getting a divorce can feel overwhelming and stressful. Hiring an experienced divorce attorney can help ease the stress and ensure you cover all your bases.

Hire A Divorce Lawyer With Experience You Can Trust

At Azemika & Azemika, our practice is devoted exclusively to family law, divorce law, adoption, property division, child custody, and support in Kern County. Our attorneys are experts and will ensure your rights are protected, and your needs are taken care of when going through a divorce.

You don’t have to go through your divorce alone; we are here to help. Contact us today for a consultation.