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A divorce in legal terms is called a Dissolution of Marriage. For parties in a Domestic Partnership, this is Dissolution of a Domestic Partnership. The Dissolution ends all legal bonds. There are residency requirements to get divorced in California. This means you have to have lived in California for the past 6 months. To file in Orange County, one party must have lived in Orange County for the three months immediately preceding the filing of the Petition.

Both persons do not have to agree to the divorce. One partner can’t force the other to stay in the relationship. Either spouse can decide to end the marriage. The spouse who does not want to get a divorce cannot stop the process by refusing to participate in the case. Non participation may lead to a default judgment, not to a dismissal of the divorce request.

If the parties cannot reach an agreement to the divorce and all issues of the marriage or partnership, the court will make final decisions regarding how the couple will divide what they owe, divide property, determine whether one person will receive financial support from the other regarding the minor children and make other orders on related issues.

There is a no fault divorce law in California. There is no need to prove “fault” of one or the other spouse or partner in the deterioration of marriage or partnership from the court’s point of view. The grounds for divorce in California are that there are irreconcilable differences or incurable insanity.

If a Domestic Partnership is not registered with the State of California, you cannot file for a Dissolution of Domestic Partnership with the Court.

It takes at least six months for the divorce to become final. The six months is counted from the date that the partner who started the divorce had the other served with the Petition and the Summons OR when the responding partner filed their first paper, whichever occurs first. There is a process to follow to finish the dissolution/divorce after the first papers are filed. Several other documents still need to be submitted to the court. A divorce is not final until a Judgment of Dissolution is signed by the judge. One of the parties has to prepare the judgment form with the appropriate attachments and submit it for signature.

Either party may ask the judge to order child support, spousal or partner support (alimony), child custody and visitation, division of property, domestic violence restraining orders and other orders on related issues unless there is a default. If there is a default because the other party did not respond to the Petition, they are essentially waiving their right to have a say in the divorce settlement.

Couples married for less than 5 years, that do not have children, do not owe or own much and agree on how they will divide their belongings can use a shortened process to handle their divorce called a Summary Dissolution. This process is not available for dissolution of domestic partnerships.