Getting a divorce in Fresno

No residency requirements for legal separation


Attorneys, counseling & domestic violence

As discussed in “Updated: Divorce in California,” it’s a good idea to at least consider counseling to deal with the emotional trauma of divorce, and if domestic violence is part of your situation, it’s imperative to address that immediately. A compatible, experienced attorney can help in both areas.

Fortunately, different groups and Web sites offer numerous domestic violence resources for Fresno County residents:

Legal Separation

According to the Superior Court, Fresno County:

You do not have to meet any . . . residency requirements to request either a legal separation or a nullity of marriage. Most parties choose dissolution rather than a legal separation. Dissolution divides property and debts, makes orders regarding child custody, child support and spousal support, and terminates the marriage (restoring the parties to the status of unmarried persons).

Parties may choose to formally separate their lives but remain married for religious or other personal reasons (i.e., maintain medical insurance, qualify for derivative social security benefits). Both parties must agree to a request for legal separation. If one party files documentation requesting a legal separation and the other party file documentation requesting dissolution, the judge will grant the dissolution. If the marriage ends with the judge granting a Judgment for Legal Separation, either party may file a separate dissolution case to terminate the marital status to return both parties to the status of unmarried persons.

Another wrinkle: If you don’t meet the residency requirements, and both parties agree, you can legally separate until the requirements are satisfied, then file for dissolution.

Dissolution: Grounds and residency requirements

Again, according to the court:

There are three different ways to terminate a marriage. The most common is dissolution of marriage (often referred to as divorce). There are only two grounds used for obtaining dissolution, either “irreconcilable differences” or “incurable insanity.” Most dissolution cases request an end to the marriage based on irreconcilable differences. California court is a “no-fault” state, which means the court does not need to find that one spouse is at fault for the breakdown of the marriage. The existence of irreconcilable differences provides the court with the grounds to make a divorce or separation Judgment.

A marriage may be dissolved on the grounds of incurable insanity ” . . . only upon proof, including competent medical or psychiatric testimony, that the insane person was insane at the time the petition was filed, and remains incurably insane” (Family Code Section 2312).

To file for dissolution, either you or your spouse must meet California’s residency requirements. Either you or your spouse must have lived in California for at least six (6) months prior to filing your case AND either you or your spouse must have lived in the county where you will be filing the dissolution case for at least three (3) months prior to filing your case. There can be situations where both parties reside in California for at least six (6) months but they lived in different counties for the last three (3) months. In this situation, a party can elect to file in either county. The court you file in is the court that handles your dissolution case unless both parties have moved from the county and have formally obtained a change in venue.

Also, those in a domestic partnership have access to legal separation and dissolution, plus a simplified process known as summary dissolution under certain, specific conditions. Please see “Updated: Divorce in California.”

Facilitators can help with instructions for forms and certain procedural information, but no court personnel can provide legal advice or accompany you to court.

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We can help. If you’re ready to begin the search for a compatible, well trained, experienced divorce attorney, you can start with our free case evaluation. If you need more information, please browse our site, using the tabs at the top of the page.