Residency Requirements for a California Divorce

An attorney for a California divorce can help you sort through the residency requirements. But for general knowledge, if you want to file for divorce, you or the other party must live in the state of California for six months prior to filing and the county of filing for three months prior to the filing. That means that you need to live in California for six months and San Bernardino for three months prior to filing for divorce in San Bernardino county. If you need Orders sooner than that, you file for a legal separation after just three months.

The residency requirements are designed to keep people from "venue shopping." Some locations are known to be more advantageous to parties with certain characteristics. For instance, California is known to have high guideline child support while Nevada's policies are lower for most, but not all, parties. So, if someone moved to Las Vegas on Friday and was able to file for divorce on Monday, they would be able to have an advantage when it came to keep support payments low.

Some courts are known for being father- or mother-friendly. To find out what the situation is in a local court, contact a local attorney. It can make a difference whether you get a divorce in San Bernardino or Riverside county, for instance. California divorce law treats the parties equally, but institutional biases develop on the ground.

Note that the residency requirement is not based on the Petitioner's residence alone. The Petitioner can file for divorce in San Bernardino County if the Respondent has lived there for three months or more.

If you or the other party has not lived in the county that you're filing in for more than three months, one option is to file a Legal Separation and convert it to a Dissolution later.

If the Petitioner lives in California but the Respondent lives out of state or out of the country, the California court has the jurisdiction to grant the divorce, but it may not have the jurisdiction to order support or a property division. Jurisdiction simply means the legal authority to make orders.

However, if the Respondent files a Response to the Petition with the court, the court assumes jurisdiction and the Orders the court makes are legally binding throughout the United States.

If the parties lived together until the time of separation outside of California and one party moved to California after the separation, it is unlikely that the California court will have the ability to do much more than grant the divorce itself.

If you have further questions about residency requirements in California, ask a divorce attorney. I humbly suggest you contact the best Riverside and San Bernardino family attorney – me! My office number is 877-369-5294.

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