How Do I File for Divorce in San Diego?

A divorce is a legal dissolution of marriage. It terminates your union and creates terms for how you will live your life afterward, such as property division and child custody orders. If you are considering a divorce in San Diego, California, you must take basic steps to file. Consult with a divorce lawyer in San Diego for further questions, assistance or legal advice.

Do I Meet the Requirements?

First, find out if you meet the requirements for getting divorced under state law. California is a no-fault divorce state, meaning you do not need a specific reason to get divorced. Even if neither you nor your spouse caused the split, you can still file for divorce in California. You will simply cite “irreconcilable differences” as your reason for dissolving the marriage.

You must meet California’s residency requirements to file for divorce. You or your spouse must have resided in the State of California for at least six months prior to filing. In addition, you must have resided in the county where you wish to file for at least three months. If you and your spouse live in different counties, you can file in either county, as long as the person in that county has lived there for at least three months.

Do I Need a Divorce Lawyer?

The next step is determining if you need a divorce lawyer. There are many benefits to hiring one, but it may not be necessary depending on your circumstances. If you believe that you and your spouse can communicate and compromise on the terms of a divorce, you may not need an attorney’s representation. If, however, you expect to encounter obstacles or cannot come to a settlement agreement, hiring a lawyer is important to protect your rights. Common reasons to hire an attorney are:

  • Children or a custody case
  • A high-value divorce
  • Complex assets
  • A contested divorce
  • An unamicable relationship with your spouse
  • Other complications, such as an out-of-country spouse

The divorce process is different for everyone. A lawyer can customize his or her services to address your unique needs. This can make the legal process easier for you and your family and increase the odds of a successful resolution. If you are unsure whether or not you need an attorney, contact one to request a free case review. An attorney will be honest in whether or not it is worth the money to retain legal services based on the facts of your case.

What Paperwork Must Be Filed?

Obtain the required paperwork, either by downloading Form FL-100 online and mailing it in or visiting the family law courthouse in your county. FL-100 requires basic facts and information about your marriage, such as whether you have minor children, the legal grounds for the divorce, and your desired child custody and support arrangements.

Once you submit the petition, you will need to serve a summons onto your spouse, either yourself or by hiring a professional to do it for you. Upon the receipt of the summons, your spouse will have the chance to respond with his or her own desired terms for the divorce. You will then negotiate a divorce settlement or end up taking the case to trial. Without a response, it is assumed that your spouse agrees to your terms, and you may be able to proceed with an uncontested (default) divorce.

How Much Does it Cost to File for Divorce in California?

Filing for divorce in California is not free unless you qualify for a fee waiver. The fee to file is currently $435. There are additional fees if you are filing in Riverside, San Bernardino or San Francisco Counties. If you believe you qualify for a fee waiver as a low-income individual, you can request one using Form FW-001. You can submit this form along with your divorce petition. For more information about filing a divorce in San Diego, consult with an attorney.