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San Diego Divorce FAQs

The San Diego Divorce Lawyers at The Law Offices of Doppelt and Forney, APLC are here to make the divorce process as easy as possible for you. Call today at 800-769-4748 to schedule a free in-person or virtual consultation with an experienced attorney.

Can I get a Divorce in California?

In order to qualify for a divorce in California you need to meet both of these requirements:

  • Lived in California for at least 6 months
  • Lived in the county you’re filing in for at least 3 months
Are There Different Kinds of Divorces?

Contested Divorce – Contested divorces usually involve both spouses retaining separate attorneys to represent them because they were not able to come to an agreement on the terms of the divorce. Commonly, contested divorces happen when there is a lot to lose or gain. If one or both spouses have a high net worth, if one or both spouses have significant assets and liabilities, or if there are minor children, a contested divorce becomes more likely. A contested divorce is much more complicated than an uncontested divorce, and usually involves hearings, negotiations, and sometimes a trial.

Uncontested Divorce –In an uncontested divorce, both spouses are able to work together to come to an agreement on the terms of the divorce. An uncontested divorce is much simpler than a contested divorce, which means there will be no hearings, settlement negotiations or trial. A lawyer can assist and make the process as easy as on you as possible.

No-Fault Divorce – In 1970, California was the first state to offer no-fault divorces. Now, no-fault divorces are the majority of all divorces in the United States. This means that the spouse filing for divorce does not have to prove “fault” (adultery, abuse, extended prison stay, etc.) as a cause for divorce. Instead, the most common ground for divorce is “irreconcilable differences”.

Default Divorce – A default divorce happens when one party does not respond to the other party’s petition for divorce. In a “true default” case, the party is giving up their right to have any say in the divorce. This often happens when one of the spouses cannot be found or when a spouse refuses to participate.

Summary Dissolution – A summary dissolution is the easiest way to get divorced, but you have to qualify for a summary dissolution. To qualify, you must be married for less than 5 years, have no significant assets or debts, have no minor children, and agree to not request spousal support. To see if you qualify for a summary dissolution, click here to read the full list of qualifications.

Mediated Divorce – In mediation, both spouses agree to meet with a third party mediator to work out their differences. The goal is to end the marriage without having to go to court. Mediation often goes over child custody, parenting plans, division of assets, and more. Mediation is completely voluntary, which means both parties much agree. If a couple is not able to agree, they may need to go to court to work out the terms of their divorce. This may mean hiring 3 attorneys instead of 2.

How Do I File for Divorce in San Diego?
  1. Fill out the correct forms. You can search on your local courthouse’s website to find the forms you need to start your divorce petition.
  2. File for divorce at your local court house. Make sure you are filing in correct jurisdiction. In San Diego, that’s either: Vista, San Diego, El Cajon, or Chula Vista.
  3. Serve your spouse with divorce papers and show the court that your spouse was properly served with Notice of Acknowledgement and Receipt or Proof of Service.
  4. File financial disclosure forms. Find all the forms you need to fill out here.
  5. If the other side does not file a Response, submit a Default Judgement for Court approval after the required time period.
  6. If both spouses are able to agree on all issues, you will both sign a Marital Settlement Agreement and submit judgment for Court approval.
  7. If both spouses do not agree, file a Request for Mandatory Settlement Conference and/or Trial.
  8. If a settlement is unable to be reached, you may have to go to trial.
Should I Hire an Attorney for My Divorce?

Emotions can run high during the divorce process, not to mention it can be extremely complex and full of confusing forms and procedures. A divorce attorney will help you through the process, which will take stress and pressure off of you in this already difficult time.

If your divorce is high-asset, one spouse makes significantly more than the other or if there are minor children involved, you may need a divorce lawyer to help you protect your rights and obtain your goals.

How Long Will It Take to get a Divorce in San Diego?

California has a 6-month waiting period from the day you serve your spouse with divorce papers. If you haven’t come to an agreement on the terms of the divorce within the 6-month waiting period, you can bifurcate the divorce, which means you’ll be divorced but with some issues left open for you and your spouse to continue. Keep in mind, the average length of a divorce with divorce attorneys is 15 months.

What are the Costs Associated With Getting a Divorce?

The most expensive kind of divorce is the kind involving children. The cost of a divorce without children is on average around $10,000 less than a divorce with children. High-asset divorce also tends to cost more than divorces with minimal assets and debts.

Most attorneys charge an hourly rate and require a retainer. If spouses are not able to agree on issues, costs start to rise significantly.

If you choose not to use a lawyer, the filing fee for divorce is $435, and your spouse will also have to pay $435 to file their response to your divorce petition. Even without hiring lawyers, fees may add up to over $1,000.

Will I Have to Go to Court?

If you are able to agree with your spouse on the terms of the divorce, you will likely not have to go to court. However, if you and your spouse are not able to agree on child support, child custody, division of assets, etc., you may have to work those issues out in court. There are, however, other ways to resolve these issues, such as working with a third-party mediator or working with an attorney to help you negotiate.

Client Reviews
Dear Roy, I would like to thank you and all team members as well as office staff for helping me defend in this case. It has been a difficult time for me during the last couple of weeks, and now because of this success result, I am able to move forward with my new chapter of life, even a little late at this age!!! Again with much appreciation, I wish you all to continue to do the same with a big heart as it was with me, in helping those who are in need of your professional services. W.
Thank you for your time and energy on this case, you took so much of the worry away from me! I appreciate all of your help. I will use and recommend you to other in the future. T.S.
I want to take this time to thank you and your staff for an outstanding job with my case to terminate spousal, you are an excellent attorney Roy, and your staff is very professional and considerate to my questions and concerns of my case. Thank you very much again. T.Y.
I wanted to say how much I appreciate your help and advice in regards to my name change. Your assistance during this time has been invaluable. Thank you again. M.J.