California was the first state to adopt the "no-fault divorce" concept. In California, a dissolution of marriage can be granted if the court finds that "irreconcilable differences" have caused an irrevocable breakdown of the marriage. In effect, this simply means that a married person who wants to end the marriage can do so, even if the other spouse wants to stay together.
If you have been married for less than five years, have no children, don't own real estate, and have relatively limited property and debts, you may qualify for a summary dissolution. This is a simpler process, which generally doesn't require an appearance before a judge. You and your spouse must agree on how you will divide your property and debts, the agreement must be filed with the divorce petition. Although you still have to wait six months before your divorce becomes final, you don't have to go through a lot of the procedures and appearances required for a regular divorce.
If you don't qualify for a summary dissolution, a typical dissolution of marriage requires one spouse to file the divorce petition and serve the legal document to the other spouse. The responding spouse must file response according to California Civil Procedure. The process is similar to a litigation. The spouses will engage in discovery and discuss all terms regarding property division, custody of children, and/or alimony and child support. If the spouses agree on all terms, then they will sign Marital Settlement Agreement, if not, a trial will take place.
Divorce is an exhausting procedure, and it is sometimes not very amicable. In order to eliminate some of the dispute, especially with property divisions, in divorce proceeding, we often help our clients draft prenuptial agreements. We will formulate each agreement based on clients’ specific needs, and help our client achieve their specific goals and protect their assets, property and legal rights.