What is a divorce

Posted By Aaron Denton, On August 20, 2020

In Los Angeles, there are a few ways to end a marriage/domestic partnership. You can file for an annulment, divorce, or summary dissolution. The purpose of this article is about discussing divorce. An annulment is when a court invalidates your marriage, as if it never occurred. It essentially says your domestic partnership/marriage was never legal and therefore the status is like it never happened. There are cases where an annulment might be appropriate – for example, your partner was already married, was too young to consent to marriage, or was tricked and forced into marriage.

When you get a divorce, also known as a dissolution of the marriage/dissolution of domestic partnership, it legally ends the marriage. After a divorce, both partners are now single, and allowed to begin another domestic partnership/get married again. Courts can also issue orders, during the divorce – regarding things like division of property, restraining orders, child custody, child visitation, child support, spousal support, and more.

A summary dissolution is able to end your marriage, like a divorce, but you only need to file paperwork with the court instead of actually appearing in front of a judge. Summary dissolution only applies in situations where spouses have been married for less than 5 years, have no children, and have no shared real estates/debts/assets together. California has a fourth process, known as a legal separation, which is something your Los Angeles divorce attorney can help you with as well. Legal separation doesn’t end your marriage, like a divorce/summary dissolution can. It simply allows you to ask the court to decide issues like child custody, visitation, etc. Some people choose to get a legal separation for religious/insurance reasons. Unfortunately, a legal separation doesn’t allow you to get re-married, or enter into a new partnership with someone else.

Los Angeles has a process known as “no fault divorce,” which means you don’t have to prove your spouse did anything wrong in order to get divorced. Instead, you can tell the court you and your spouse have “irreconcilable differences.” Under California law, either you or your spouse can decide to end the marriage at will. The other party cannot obstruct it by refusing to participate. Even if your ex does not wish to get divorced, or does not participate in the process, you can get a default judgement, and the divorce will proceed.

The process of filing for divorce in Los Angeles begins with a petition to file, with the court. You put basic information about your marriage. The petition can also ask for orders, regarding shared property, children, etc. Los Angeles also requires you to file a Summons, in addition to the petition. The Summons provides information about the divorce for you, and your spouse, and can limit what you may do with the shared property, money, assets, etc. You may also be required to get a court order, or prior written consent from your spouse before you are allowed to move out of the state. Depending on your situation, you might have to file additional forms, which can be found online at the California Judicial Branch website. 

Once you file any paperwork with the court clerk, you have to alert your spouse. This is called service, which means your spouse receives a copy of the court filing. Before the court can make any orders, or judgments in the divorce, you have to ensure your spouse has been served. After you file, and do service, you and your spouse have to attend mediation, or trial, to settle issues you both cannot agree on. However, the court is ok with accepting an agreement if you and your spouse can come to an agreement on issues on your own.

There are many Family Law courthouses in Los Angeles where you can file divorce paperwork. The three Central District courthouses are below:

The Central Civil West Courthouse
600 S Commonwealth Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90005

The Stanley Mosk Courthouse on Hill St.
111 North Hill St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012

The Stanley Mosk Courthouse on Grand Ave.
110 North Grand Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90012