A California divorce can be granted on the no-fault ground of irreconcilable differences, without having to prove misconduct or fault by one of the spouses. The process begins with the filing of a petition for dissolution of marriage or legal separation, provided that the filing spouse has been a legal resident of the state for at least six months, and the county for three month.
If the spouses can work out the issues in the divorce between themselves, the court will usually approve their agreement and grant the divorce. If there is disagreement about how to dispose of these issues, the court will hold a hearing, and the parties, through their attorneys, will present evidence and testimony as to how the issues should be decided, and the judge will rule accordingly.
To the extent that it is possible, community property is divided equally by the court. Whether a particular asset is community property or separate property and its value are critical issues in obtaining a fair property settlement. Spousal support, also known as maintenance or alimony, may be ordered to be paid from one spouse to the other for a limited period to aid the receiving spouse in becoming self-supporting. If there are children involved, the court determines all aspects of child custody, including legal custody, physical custody, and visitation. The court may also order child support to be paid, in an amount to be determined according to statutory guidelines.