My Spouse Just Asked for a Divorce in California. What Do I Do?

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When your spouse asks you for a divorce, it can come as a devastating shock. You most likely have questions about how to handle the situation, including appropriate next steps immediately.

At Seabrook Law Offices, our family law attorneys guide spouses through the divorce to help protect their best interests. This article will give you a brief overview of what to do when your spouse asks you for a divorce in California.

California Follows a No-Fault Divorce System

For an estimated 39% of people who get married, the phrase “’til death do us part” is not taken literally. Over time, you and your partner grow apart, and a specific incident or series of events can lead to what many people refer to as “irreconcilable differences.” This phrase means that you can no longer get along with your spouse, and the best solution may be to dissolve the marriage.

Previously, couples needed grounds for divorce due to a fault-based system, where there had to be a proven reason for the divorce filing, including:

  • Adultery
  • Criminal conviction
  • Cruelty or abuse
  • Deserting for at least one year
  • One-year separation
  • Insanity

In most states today, including California, neither half of the couple needs to list the reasons above to file for a divorce. This change is the result of California being a no-fault system for divorce. Accordingly, the no-fault ground threshold can be satisfied with either of these two divorce justifications:

    1. Insanity
    2. Irreconcilable differences

As a result, one spouse may find themselves blindsided by a divorce request. You might have suspected that your marriage was in trouble but not that the finality of divorce was on the table.

Requirements for Filing for Divorce in San Jose

Even though you don’t need a reason like adultery to file for a divorce, you must still meet specific legal requirements.

Residency Requirements

The divorce filing may have to wait if you’ve recently moved to California. By law, at least one person in the marriage has to have been a California resident for at least six months. Further, the residency requirement is three months in the county where you file the divorce.

There are exceptions for same-sex couples if they currently live in a state where this form of marriage is not recognized.

Failure to meet this requirement does not prohibit a divorce. Instead, the couple can either wait until the time threshold is met or file for separation first.

Waiting Period

After filing for divorce, it does not immediately go into effect. There is a six-month waiting period before the divorce is finalized. This six-month period begins either after the paperwork is delivered or after the first court appearance by the respondent.

In some situations, a judge may halt proceedings for 30 days if he or she feels like reconciliation is an option.

Fee Payments

The actual cost of filing for divorce may vary. The filing fee is currently $435 at the time of this publication. There are also attorneys’ fees to consider to negotiate arrangements for asset division, child custody, and other logistical issues. If a court battle is imminent, these fees are likely to climb.

One of the first steps is to consult with a family law attorney in San Jose to explore your options and ensure that you have a plan to protect your interests.

Will My Spouse Change Their Mind?

Many spouses wonder about the possibility of their partner changing his or her mind. Surprisingly, studies show that up to 50% of couples who considered a divorce ultimately decided to stay together. Saving the marriage could involve working through differences, getting couples counseling, or taking some time either apart or together to figure out how to rekindle a flame.

Handling a Divorce Request with Grace and Dignity

There’s not a single right way to handle a request for a divorce, but there are some helpful rules about what actions are ill-advised from a behavioral standpoint. These actions can cause additional heartache as well as unnecessary conflict.

  • Resist the urge to act out (especially with drugs and alcohol)
  • Do not beg or plead to stay together
  • Don’t shower your spouse with gifts to induce them to stay
  • Don’t involve your friends or family in the conflict
  • Avoid gossiping about your spouse

Contact an Experienced San Jose Divorce Attorney to Discuss Your Options

At Seabrook Law Offices, we understand that this is a difficult time, and you are likely facing several new and unfamiliar challenges. To ensure your best interests are protected as you dissolve your marriage, contact our family law office at 408-560-4487 to schedule a consultation. We will discuss your options and recommend a path to move forward.

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Copyright© 2022. Seabrook Law Offices. All rights reserved.

The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.

Seabrook Law Offices
6840 Via Del Oro, Ste. 265
San Jose CA 95119

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