Breaking Up is Hard to Do: A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting a Divorce in San Diego

Ending a marriage can be a difficult and emotional decision, but when it comes to getting a divorce in San Diego, there are certain steps and processes that must be followed. Whether you’re considering filing for divorce or have already begun the process, understanding how to navigate the laws and requirements in San Diego is crucial. In this article, we will provide a comprehensive guide on how to get a divorce in San Diego, including the necessary steps, documents, and potential challenges you may face along the way. Let’s dive in and learn more about this important topic.


Going through a divorce is never an easy process, and it can be even more challenging if you are unsure of the steps involved or where to begin. If you are seeking a divorce in San Diego, it is essential to understand the legal requirements and procedures for obtaining one. From property division to child custody agreements, there are a variety of factors to consider and navigate during a divorce. Fortunately, this guide will provide you with all the necessary information on how to get a divorce in San Diego.

Understanding Divorce Laws in San Diego

The first step in getting a divorce in San Diego is understanding the laws that govern the process. California follows a “no-fault” approach when it comes to divorce, meaning that neither party needs to prove fault or wrongdoing for the dissolution of marriage. Instead, irreconcilable differences between spouses are enough grounds for seeking a divorce.

In addition, California law requires at least one spouse to have lived in the state for at least six months before filing for divorce. Also, if minor children are involved, they must have resided in California for at least six months before filing.

Filing for Divorce in San Diego

To get a divorce in San Diego, you must file specific documents with the court clerk’s office. These include a petition (form FL-100), summons (FL-110), and declaration under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA Form FL-105). The petition states your desire to end your marriage and provides basic information about both parties. The summons notifies your spouse that you have filed for divorce and informs them of their rights and obligations during the proceedings. And finally, the declaration under UCCJEA verifies that your children meet California’s residency requirements.

After filing these forms with the court clerk’s office, you will need to serve your spouse with copies of the documents. This can be done by mail, a third party, or through the sheriff’s office.

Property Division in San Diego Divorces

California is a community property state, meaning that all assets and debts acquired during marriage are considered joint property and subject to equal division. However, this does not mean that everything is split down the middle. The court considers various factors, such as each spouse’s economic contributions and future earning potential, to determine an equitable distribution of assets.

It is essential to note that community property only applies to property acquired during marriage. Any assets or debts acquired before or after the marriage are considered separate property and not subject to division.

Child Custody in San Diego Divorces

When it comes to child custody in a divorce, California law mandates courts to make decisions based on what is in the best interest of the child. Parents can work together to agree on a parenting plan or visitation schedule, which is then submitted to the court for approval. If parents cannot come to an agreement, then the court will make a determination based on factors such as each parent’s ability to provide for the child’s physical and emotional needs and any history of domestic violence or abuse.

Spousal Support in San Diego Divorces

Spousal support, also known as alimony, may be awarded by the court if it deems it necessary for one spouse to support the other financially after divorce. In determining spousal support, various factors are considered, including each spouse’s income potential and their standard of living during the marriage.

Unlike child support, there are no set guidelines for determining spousal support amounts in California. Instead, judges have broad discretion and consider each case on its own merits.

The Divorce Trial Process

If you and your spouse cannot reach an agreement on all aspects of your divorce, the case moves to a trial setting in front of a judge. The trial process can be lengthy, and both parties will have the opportunity to present evidence, call witnesses, and cross-examine the other party’s witnesses. At the end of the trial, the judge will make a final decision on any outstanding issues.

In conclusion, getting a divorce in San Diego can be a complex and emotionally challenging process. It is crucial to understand the laws and legal requirements involved and seek guidance from an experienced family law attorney to navigate this difficult time successfully. By understanding the steps involved and being prepared for any potential obstacles, you can ensure that your divorce proceedings go as smoothly as possible.

Understanding the Divorce Process in San Diego

If you are contemplating getting a divorce in San Diego, it is important to understand the process and the legal requirements involved. Divorce is a complex and emotional process, and having a clear understanding of what to expect can make it easier to navigate. So, let’s take a look at the steps involved in getting a divorce in San Diego.

Step 1: Meet the Residency Requirements

In order to file for divorce in San Diego, either you or your spouse must have been a resident of California for at least six months prior to filing. Additionally, one of you must have been living in San Diego County for at least three months before filing. If you do not meet these residency requirements, you will not be able to file for divorce in San Diego.

Step 2: File Petition for Dissolution of Marriage

To start the divorce process, one spouse (the petitioner) must file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with the court. This document outlines all the necessary information about the marriage such as dates of marriage, names and ages of all children, grounds for divorce (irreconcilable differences or incurable insanity), etc. Once this document is filed, it must be served to the other spouse (the respondent).

Step 3: Serve the Respondent

The respondent must be given proper legal notice that a divorce has been filed. The petitioner can serve them personally or through an authorized third-party who is over 18 years old and not involved in the case. If your spouse cannot be located or refuses to accept service, alternative methods may be used such as publication or posting at their last known residence.

Step 4: Response from Respondent

The respondent has 30 days (or 60 days if served outside of California) from the date of service to file a response. If they do not respond within this time frame, the court may enter a default judgment in favor of the petitioner.

Step 5: Disclosure of Financial Information

Both parties are required to exchange financial information such as income, assets, and debts. This is to ensure that both parties have full knowledge of the financial situation and can make informed decisions during the divorce process. The court also requires a complete schedule of assets and debts to be filed.

Step 6: Negotiate Settlement or Attend Mediation

If both parties can come to an agreement on all issues such as child custody, support, division of property, etc., they can submit a written agreement to the court for approval. If there are disagreements, they may attend mediation with a neutral third party to try and reach an agreement.

Step 7: Trial

If mediation is unsuccessful, the case will go to trial where each party presents their case and the judge makes a decision on all unresolved issues. This process can be lengthy and expensive, so it is often recommended to try and reach an agreement through negotiation or mediation.

The Importance of Hiring a Divorce Attorney in San Diego

While technically it is possible for individuals to file for divorce without legal representation, it is not recommended. A divorce attorney has extensive knowledge and experience in handling divorce cases in San Diego and can provide valuable guidance throughout the entire process.

Legal Expertise

Divorce can involve complex legal issues that require thorough understanding and expertise. A divorce attorney understands the laws and processes involved in a San Diego divorce case and can ensure that all legal requirements are met.

Emotional Support

Divorce is an emotional process that can be physically and mentally draining. Having a divorce attorney by your side can provide much-needed emotional support and guidance during this difficult time.

Objective Decision Making

Divorce can often bring out intense emotions, making it difficult for individuals to make rational decisions. A divorce attorney can provide unbiased advice, helping you make informed decisions that are in your best interest.

Paperwork and Deadlines

Divorce involves a lot of paperwork and strict deadlines. A divorce attorney can handle all the necessary paperwork and ensure it is filed correctly and on time, taking that burden off your shoulders.

The Benefits of Mediation in a San Diego Divorce

Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution process that involves a neutral third-party mediator who helps facilitate discussions between both parties to reach an agreement. It offers several benefits for couples going through a divorce in San Diego.


Mediation is usually less expensive than going to trial. It requires fewer court appearances and less time spent on legal proceedings, resulting in significant cost savings.

More Amicable

Divorce mediation allows couples to work together to reach mutually agreeable solutions. This leads to better communication and a more amicable relationship

1. What are the residency requirements for getting a divorce in San Diego?
To file for divorce in San Diego, at least one of the parties involved must have lived in the county for at least three months prior to filing. It does not matter where you were married.

2. Do I need a lawyer to get a divorce in San Diego?
While it is not required by law to hire a lawyer, it is highly recommended that you do so, especially if you and your spouse have complicated assets or disputes. A lawyer will ensure that your rights and interests are protected throughout the divorce process.

3. How long does it take to get a divorce in San Diego?
The length of time it takes to finalize a divorce in San Diego depends on various factors, including whether or not there are any unresolved issues between the parties. On average, the process takes 6-18 months from start to finish.

4. Can I get a divorce without going to court?
It is possible to get an uncontested divorce without going to court by having your lawyer submit all necessary documents on your behalf. However, if there are any contested issues, you may have to attend court hearings.

5. How much does it cost to file for divorce in San Diego?
The filing fees for a divorce in San Diego amount to $435 as of 2021. However, additional costs may arise depending on factors such as mediation fees and lawyer’s fees.

6. What happens if my spouse and I cannot agree on terms of the divorce?
In this case, the court will hold hearings and make decisions regarding any unresolved issues such as child custody, support, and division of assets. It is best to try and reach an agreement with your spouse through mediation before going through court proceedings.

In conclusion, getting a divorce in San Diego can be a complex and emotional process, but it is possible to navigate through it with the right knowledge and support. The first step is to understand the legal requirements for divorce in the state of California and ensure that you meet them before proceeding. It is important to note that California follows the “no-fault” principle, which means that marital misconduct does not play a role in the decision to grant a divorce.

Next, it is crucial to gather all necessary documents and information before filing for divorce. This includes financial records, property ownership documents, and any existing prenuptial or postnuptial agreements. Hiring an experienced family law attorney who is well-versed in California’s divorce laws can greatly facilitate this process and ensure that your rights are protected.

During the divorce proceedings, it is important to communicate openly and honestly with your spouse, as well as with your attorney. Negotiating an agreement outside of court through methods such as mediation or collaborative divorce can often be less time-consuming and less costly than going to trial.

The division of assets, including property, debts, and spousal support, can also be a contentious issue in a divorce. Working with a skilled attorney can help you achieve a fair and equitable settlement based on

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Kelsey Garrison
Kelsey Garrison, our esteemed author and a passionate writer in the world of weddings and bridal fashion, has been an integral part of our website since its inception.

With a rich history in creating engaging content, Kelsey has consistently brought fresh insights and valuable information to our readers.

Starting in 2024, Kelsey made a significant transition to focus specifically on the "Wedding/Bridal Fashion, Wedding Tips" niche. This shift was driven by her desire to delve deeper into the intricacies of wedding planning and bridal fashion—a field that blends timeless elegance with contemporary trends.

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