What Steps Should I Take When Preparing for Divorce in California? 

Last Updated on December 11, 2023 by Lori Pace

There were 689,308 divorces in the US in 2021. California is in the top ten for the number of divorces, although divorce rates have fallen in recent years, from 9.8% per 1000 people in 2014 to 8.9% in 2021. Shasta County has the highest number of divorces at 13.8% and Santa Clara County has the lowest at 7.4%.

Deciding to file for divorce is a big decision and not something anyone does on a whim. Most people get married believing the relationship will last forever, so it can be extremely traumatic to realize this person isn’t someone you can spend the rest of your life with. 

Whether they have cheated on you, or you have grown apart, it’s important to take the right steps, as this will ensure the divorce process goes a lot smoother. 

Do You Meet the Residency Requirement?

To file for divorce in California, you or your spouse must have lived in the state for at least six months. 

Speak to a Divorce Lawyer

Look for a lawyer who specializes in family law. They will help you navigate the complicated world of spousal support, child custody, and property disputes. A good divorce attorney can explain your rights and help you understand what to expect. Choose the right lawyer and they will support you through what is often a difficult process, so you end up with a settlement you’re happy with. 

Gavel, Divorce Law Books And Wedding Rings On Wooden Desk
Gavel, divorce law books and wedding rings on wooden desk

Consider the Benefits of Mediation and Collaborative Divorce

The last thing anyone wants is a contentious divorce. When that happens, nobody wins, least of all any children you share. Mediation is a good way to negotiate amicably, with a neutral third-party present. It’s far better to reach a fair decision on the distribution of assets and child custody than it is to fight for every last cent in court. 

Online divorce mediation is an option that provides an accessible and confidential space for couples to engage in constructive conversations, fostering a cooperative environment even when physically apart. Through virtual platforms like San Francisco-based online divorce mediators Bliss Divorce, couples can address concerns, share documents, and work towards mutually agreeable solutions. This digital approach not only saves time and resources but also allows for a smoother transition, ensuring a more harmonious post-divorce relationship for both parties.

Pull Together All Your Financial Documentation 

Your finances will be scrutinized in great detail during the divorce, so it pays to have all your ducks in a row. Collect bank statements, property deeds, tax returns, and any other paperwork your spouse’s solicitor will ask to see. This ensures that both parties receive a fair division of the marital assets

Financial Documentation

Put Together a Parenting Plan

Make sure the needs of your children are put first. Talk to your spouse and put a parenting plan in place that addresses issues like who will have primary custody, visiting rights for the non-resident spouse, and who makes the decisions about child-related issues. Try and stay amicable while you sort everything out. 

Be Prepared for Temporary Orders

A judge may need to put temporary orders in place to address immediate problems like child custody, spousal support, and other forms of support. Make sure you understand the process and be there to present your case if called upon. 

Have a Support System in Place

Divorce is stressful, even if the decision is mutual and you and your spouse deal with everything amicably. Have a support system in place so you have people to talk to and share the emotional load if necessary. 

Remember, no two divorces are the same, so even if a friend had a difficult divorce, it doesn’t mean yours will be too.

Lori Pace
Lori Pace

Lori Pace is a single mother of three daughters ages 7 and under. As a working mom from home, she balances kids, work and two crazy dogs with humor and love. Follow Lori as she honestly gives tips and advice based on her own experiences as a single mom!