Getting a divorce in San Francisco

Getting a divorce in San Francisco

Introduction to the useful ‘Self-Help’ guide


If you are considering the painful process of divorce, known as dissolution of marriage, experts advise that if domestic violence is involved, that is the first thing to address. For those in and around San Francisco (basically, San Francisco County), here are two useful links:

Consider counseling and hiring an attorney

Even if both agree that the relationship is over, you should prepare yourself for grief: consider budgeting for counseling. Also, Family Court Services may have helpful suggestions, including information concerning mediation.

Be advised: Even at the the California Courts’ “Self-Help Center,” couples are advised to retain an experienced, trained attorney, even if yours is an uncontested marriage or domestic partnership: In even the easiest way to end the relationship, called a “summary dissolution,” the guide says, “You won’t have to talk to a judge and you may not need to hire a lawyer. But remember: it is in your best interest to see a lawyer about ending your marriage or domestic partnership.”

The Courts’ Web page for divorce

Here’s the links from the Courts’  “home page” for divorce:

Ending marriage or domestic partnership

On that “home page,” we see this explanation: “A divorce (also called “dissolution of marriage” or “dissolution of domestic partnership”) ends your marriage or domestic partnership. After you get divorced, you will be single, and you can marry or become a domestic partner again.

If you get divorced, you can ask the judge for orders like child support, spousal support, partner support, custody and visitation, domestic violence restraining orders, division of property, and other orders.”

There’s also this: “In California, starting on January 1, 2005, domestic partners must also file for dissolution, legal separation, or annulment to end their relationship. For more information about ending a domestic partnership, click here.”

Residency requirements for divorce

To file for divorce in California, either you or your spouse must have lived in:

  • California for the last 6 months, AND
  • The county where you plan to file the divorce for the last 3 months.

If you and your spouse have lived in California for at least 6 months but in different counties for at least 3 months, you can file in either county.

If you don’t meet the residency requirement, you can still file for a legal separation.

Once enough time has passed so that you meet the residency requirement for a divorce, you may file an “amended petition” and ask the court for a divorce.

To read about residency requirements for ending a domestic partnership, click here.

Also see: “Divorce in California.”

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