Do-It-Yourself Divorces in California

    Divorce, or dissolution of marriage, is a very common occurrence in the western world that has steadily gained popularity in other parts of the world. It is believed that divorce rates for first marriages in the United States range between 11-17%, depending on the income level of the couple. Subsequent marriages have divorce rates of up to 40%. Divorces are not only emotionally and mentally draining, but also very tedious. They are many legal procedures involved in divorce, including preparing and filing a petition, serving a spouse, and having your divorce petition heard and determined by a judge.

    The entire process of terminating a marriage can take months or even years and result in high attorney fees. What many may not know is that it is possible to get a do it yourself divorce in California that does not require hiring an attorney. It is expected that other states will follow suit and also offer this divorce service. Here is a simple guide on how do-it-yourself divorces work in California.


    In order to qualify for a do-it-yourself divorce in California, either you or your spouse must be a resident of the state for a minimum of six months. It is also mandatory that the marriage is legally recognized and a marriage license was lawfully obtained. The individual filing for divorce is expected to prepare the divorce documents and present them to their spouse. While do-it-yourself divorces offer a simple solution to a difficult process, they are not necessarily instant. It will take at least six months for the divorce to be finalized from the day a spouse was served with divorce papers.

    Grounds for Divorce

    As with the traditional divorce procedure, there must be reasonable grounds for divorce presented. Most people who are unwilling to go into details regarding their divorce simply choose to state ‘irreconcilable differences’ as the basis for divorce. Other common and legitimate grounds for divorce include abuse, desertion, adultery, alcoholism, domestic violence, and imprisonment. The grounds for divorce are important determining factors in the judgment of divorce cases, particularly when it comes to the awarding of alimony and in property division.

    Property Division

    Speaking of, a common issue that arises during divorce proceedings is how property will be shared between the two parties. The state of California upholds a community property system and is one of the few states that do. This system regards any assets and arrears attained during the marriage to be equally shared between both parties following the termination of a marriage. The system excludes any assets owned individually by either party, including inheritances, gifts, and property acquired before the marriage.

    Child Custody

    Another murky topic that comes up in almost all divorces is which party will have custody of the children. The law in California is founded on the belief that the ideal situation for children involved in a divorce is regular and continuing contact with both parents following the dissolution of a marriage. Joint custody is, therefore, the most common custody arrangement in California. However, the court does put into consideration the best interests of the child and can grant sole custody to one parent if they feel the other parent is unsuitable to care for a child. In do-it-yourself divorces, the couple is allowed to arrange a parenting plan for themselves and determine how they will split their time with their children. The court only steps in if they are unable to reach a conclusive decision.

    Child Support

    Also related to children is the sensitive topic of child support. The Californian law mandates parents to financially support their children after a divorce. In do-it-yourself divorces, the couple should agree on the amount of child support required and to whom it will be paid to. In the event they are unable to come to a decision, the court will determine the amount of child support needed based on the parents’ incomes and how much time they can dedicate to their children.

    Same-sex Marriages

    Lastly, same-sex marriage was legalized in California in 2008 and many same-sex couples took this opportunity to make their unions legal. While this decision was eventually overturned, same-sex couples who got married in California are entitled to the same divorce procedures and requirements as normal couples.

    Do-it-yourself divorce in California help people to avoid the expenses associated with divorce along with the long and difficult court battles. When armed with the right information, do-it-yourself divorces are the perfect option for terminating a marriage easily and amicably. They offer a simple way through the processes of divorce while keeping costs low. So for any couple who got married in California or who have lived there for a reasonable amount of time, do-it-yourself divorces are a viable choice for a rather difficult process.