To call the process of getting a divorce complex is an understatement. It is not just an emotionally overwhelming process, but also a very expensive one. In some cases, the dragged-out divorce process can leave you so financially drained that it may take a long time for you to recover from the setback.
You must familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of the California divorce process and its legal requirements to navigate the complexity and lower your overall cost of divorce.
Residency requirements to apply for divorce in California
If you are contemplating getting a divorce in California, then you must meet the following residency requirements for the county and state:
- Either you or your spouse has to have lived in the state of California for at least the last six months.
- Either you or your spouse must be a resident of the county where the divorce papers are being filed for a minimum of three months.
- Between you and your spouse, whoever fulfills the above two requirements, can initiate filing for divorce. If both of you meet the requirements, then either of you can apply for a divorce.
If neither you nor your spouse meets the above requirements, you will not be able to proceed with the divorce process in California.
Grounds for divorce in California
Being a no-fault divorce state, California only accepts two grounds for divorce. These are:
- Irreconcilable differences:
This is a no-fault ground for divorce in California. As the name suggests, you will not be required to prove fault to end the marriage by choosing this ground. ‘Irreconcilable differences’ basically means that the spouses no longer get along, but it encompasses all reasons for the divorce, such as:
The only other acceptable ground for divorce in California is if one of the spouses is legally declared to be permanently insane or incapable of decision-making.
Summary dissolution of marriage in California
The state of California offers a comparatively fast-paced process of filing for divorce. It is known as the summary dissolution of marriage.
Both you and your spouse are required to meet the following specific criteria to be eligible for this process of getting a divorce:
- The duration of your marriage should be shorter than 5 years.
- You can have no children together born or adopted before or during the marriage (and you are not expecting a new child now).
- Neither you nor your spouse should be the owner of land or buildings or renting land or buildings.
- The value of the marital property accumulated during the entire length of the marriage must not exceed $45,000.
- The value of the individually owned property of the spouses must not exceed $45,000.
- The amount of liability or debt accumulated by the divorcing couple since the marriage should not exceed $6,000.
- You and your spouse must come to a consensus about alimony or spousal support, along with an agreement on how the property division would take place.
Important things to know about the divorce process in California
- California is a community distribution state, which implies that courts in California categorize all marital property as community property, i.e., it is either owned jointly by both spouses or is considered a single spouse’s independent property.
- In California, the divorce filings are a part of the public record.
- From the date of your filing of the divorce papers and completion of all the legal formalities, there is a compulsory 6-month waiting period before the court would finalize your divorce.
Getting an Uncontested Divorce in California
An uncontested divorce is where the divorcing couple agrees to end the marriage and is also on the same page regarding the terms and conditions of the separation. For your divorce to be characterized as uncontested, you and your spouse will have to agree on all major aspects. This includes:
- Alimony or spousal support
- Property division
- Child custody
- Child support
- Parental responsibilities and other such crucial issues
In the case of an uncontested divorce in California, you can choose to get a divorce over the internet.
However, to submit an application for divorce online, there must not be any outstanding issues between you and your spouse. It means that if your divorce is contested, where you and your spouse have differences of opinions about certain terms and conditions of the divorce settlement agreement, then you are not eligible to apply for an online divorce.
Cost of divorce in California
To get an idea of the average cost of divorce in California, you should consider the following:
- The filing fees: You are required to pay the court a $435 filing fee to apply for a divorce in California. If you are not the one filing for divorce and are instead responding to the divorce petition, you will still be charged a filing fee of $435.
- Lawyer fees: If you decide to hire lawyers, your overall cost of divorce may skyrocket, given that lawyers charge by the hour. Conventionally, attorneys charge $330 on average for every billable hour. So the average cost of divorce with lawyers can go as high as $17,500 or more if the case is contested. Moreover, if there are minor children involved, the divorce proceedings can cost you as much as $38,000.
- Other expenses: There are other legal expenses to consider, including:
- Certified copies of the dissolution of marriage records that may cost between $10 to $15.
- It may cost you $30 to file the affidavit of publication of the notice of the dissolution of marriage.
- If there are minor children involved, then the child custody evaluation will be an additional expense if ordered by the court.
- Additional motions could raise the cost by a minimum of $25 to $60.
Apart from the above costs, there are other expenses for you to consider, such as mailing, photocopies, notary services, counselling, financial services, appraisals, etc.
Get a low-cost divorce in California: Online divorce
Considering how expensive a convention divorce can be, it is prudent to proceed with the process without a lawyer. However, Do-It-Yourself (DIY divorce) can also be a hard nut to crack. Many people find it very difficult to navigate the complex process and need a bit of guidance and assistance.
The answer to this conundrum is to get an online divorce. The thing about getting an internet divorce is that you get all the advice and assistance you need in terms of filing the divorce papers and other relevant documents without having to bear the astronomical costs of hiring a lawyer.
By hiring one of the top online divorce companies someone like californiaonlinedivorce.com, you will be able to wrap up your divorce preparation online, limiting your divorce cost to between $150 to $2000. Even after adding the state filing fee, you can see that the cost of divorce in the case of an internet divorce is drastically lower than attorney-led traditional divorce. The only condition is that your divorce has to be uncontested, meaning there must not be any outstanding conflicts or issues that remain to be resolved between you and your spouse.
Process of getting a divorce online in California
To proceed with an online divorce, you and your spouse will have to meet the state’s residency requirements as discussed above and agree on all major issues to file for an uncontested divorce.
Once these two conditions are met, you can proceed in the following manner to get an internet divorce:
- Choose among the top online divorce companies. Hire a capable firm that will help you throughout the process.
- The online divorce firm will ask you to answer a brief questionnaire. Based on your responses, the online company will prepare the relevant paperwork specific to your situation, filling in all the appropriate fields on your legal forms for you.
- The firm will then provide you with the documentation. In most cases, you’ll have the option to download it immediately online to be printed, signed, and filed, or you could request to have it mailed to your home.
- You and your spouse will have to sign the divorce papers and file them with the local county courthouse.
Advantages of getting a divorce online in California
- Inexpensive process
As mentioned before, the process of online divorce is extremely affordable, especially when compared to other alternatives. Hence, cost-effectiveness is a significant advantage of getting an online divorce.
- Takes less time
The online divorce process is much faster. Online companies usually provide you with the relevant paperwork within 48 hours. With a lawyer, it can take multiple appointments that could stretch out for weeks.
Getting a divorce over the internet is a hassle-free process, as the entire paperwork preparation process can be done from the comfort of your home.
Divorcing couples who go forward with a contentious divorce because they cannot come to an agreement often find themselves dragging out the divorce process and draining themselves both financially and emotionally. They end up wasting valuable time, which they otherwise could have used to move on with their lives. Thus, if you want to get a low-cost divorce that will be over quickly, then getting an uncontested divorce online is your best bet in California.