What Is an Absolute Divorce?

In California, an absolute divorce is another word for a complete divorce, where a marriage is dissolved by the courts. A limited divorce, on the other hand, is another word for legal separation; both parties are still married but they are living apart. Whether or not an absolute divorce is right for you depends on your specific situation.

Absolute Divorce vs. Limited Divorce in California

An absolute divorce is another term for a traditional divorce or dissolution of marriage in California. It is in contrast to a limited divorce, or a legal separation. In an absolute divorce, the marriage is completely dissolved, meaning it is legally terminated. Both parties involved will be treated as single in the eyes of the law and be allowed to remarry.

In a limited divorce, the marriage is not terminated. The parties remain legally married and are not free to remarry until they obtain an absolute divorce. In a limited divorce, the couple typically lives apart to formalize their separation while remaining married. They live by the terms of an approved agreement or court order regarding issues such as property division, child custody, child support and alimony.

Which Type of Divorce Is Right for You?

If you are not happy with your marriage, you and your spouse should carefully consider both the absolute divorce and limited divorce options for California couples. There is no one-size-fits-all option for everyone. You should communicate with your spouse to determine which is right for your needs and goals.

Reasons couples choose limited over absolute divorce can include:

  • Health insurance coverage
  • Retirement benefits
  • Tax implications
  • Wanting a divorce trial period
  • The potential for reconciliation
  • Religious reasons or beliefs
  • Personal or cultural reasons

An absolute divorce cannot be reversed. If the couple reconciles and wishes to be married again, they must remarry. A limited divorce, on the other hand, can be undone and restore the couple to their married state. If reconciliation is still a possibility, a limited divorce may be the right option for you.

How to Get an Absolute Divorce in California

If you are sure that an absolute divorce is the right way forward, start the process by consulting with a divorce attorney serving San Diego, California. A divorce lawyer can guide you through the steps it takes to get an absolute divorce in California while protecting your legal rights.

You and your spouse will need to meet California’s residency requirements before you can file, which say that you or your spouse must have lived in California for the past six months and in the county where you filed your petition for the past three months. If you wish to have a limited divorce, you can file for legal separation as soon as either of you move to California.

You or your spouse will need to file the Divorce Petition with the family courthouse and pay the filing fee. The non-petitioner (Respondent) will have the chance to respond in writing regarding which terms he or she does not agree with, if any. If the Respondent agrees to all of the proposed terms or does not respond, the courts will grant the absolute divorce without any further negotiations necessary.

If you and your ex-spouse do not agree on all of the terms of your absolute divorce, you can negotiate (with or without attorneys present) to try to reach a compromise. Your divorce case may have to go to court for a judge to decide if you cannot agree to its terms. For more information about what an absolute divorce in California entails, request a free consultation with an attorney at Boyd Law.