Chase, Berenstein and Murray, Counselors at Law provides collaborative divorce solutions to clients in San Mateo, San Francisco and Santa Clara counties.

What are the Residency Requirements for Divorce in California?

In California, there are specific residency requirements you must meet before you can file for divorce. Let’s break down these requirements to help you better understand them and understand the timing for filing.

  • 1) Six Months State Residency: To file for a dissolution of marriage (divorce) in California, you must have been a resident of the state for at least six months before initiating the divorce proceedings. This means that you must establish California as your primary state of residence for the six-month period before you can file for divorce.
  • 2) Three Months County Residency: In addition to state residency, you must also be a resident of the county where you intend to file for divorce for at least three months before initiating the divorce proceedings. This ensures that you are familiar with the local jurisdiction.
  • 3) Proving Residency: Proving residency can be somewhat nebulous, as it involves both intent and physical presence. Residency is not just about living in a place; it is also about considering it your home. You need to have a genuine intent to make California your home. This means that even if you spend extended periods away for work or other reasons, as long as you still consider California your primary residence, you meet the requirement.
  • 4) Legal Separation as an Option: If you haven’t met the three-month county residency requirement but want to initiate the divorce process, you can file for a legal separation. There is no residency requirement for legal separation in California. Once you meet the county residency requirement, you can convert the legal separation into a dissolution of marriage.
  • 5) Jurisdiction Conflicts: If you and your spouse live in different states or counties, there might be a jurisdictional conflict. In such cases, the court will decide which state or county is more suitable for handling the divorce proceedings based on various factors, including the location of your primary residence, your children’s school, and other relevant considerations.
  • 6) Seeking Divorce in Other States: While some people may consider traveling to another state to obtain a “quickie divorce”. However, most states have their own residency requirements including Nevada which has a reputation of offering a “quickie divorce”. Even if you go to another state, you will typically need to establish residency there, which might not necessarily be quicker than filing in your home jurisdiction.
  • 7) Differences in State Laws: Different states have varying divorce laws and regulations, which can impact factors like spousal support and property division. California is a community property state, while most states are not. It is crucial to consider the legal implications of filing in a particular state and consult with an attorney who is knowledgeable about the relevant state’s divorce laws.

Meeting the residency requirements for divorce in California is the first step in the divorce process. Consulting with a legal expert to ensure that you meet these requirements and will help to navigate the divorce proceedings effectively, taking into account the specific circumstances of your case.

Lisa R. Murray is an experienced Collaborative Divorce and Mediation Attorney. She can help you to determine the goals for your divorce and post-divorce life. She can be reached at 650-297-0367