How to Get a Divorce in San Diego

How to Get a Divorce in San Diego: A Comprehensive Guide

Going through a divorce can be an emotionally challenging and legally complex process. If you find yourself in this situation in San Diego, California, it’s important to understand the steps involved in obtaining a divorce. In this article, we will guide you through the process and answer some frequently asked questions about divorcing in San Diego.

1. Understand California’s Residency Requirements:
To file for divorce in San Diego, one of the spouses must have been a resident of California for at least six months and a resident of San Diego County for at least three months before filing the petition.

2. Seek Legal Counsel:
Consulting with an experienced family law attorney in San Diego is crucial. They will guide you through the process, protect your rights, and ensure that all legal requirements are met.

3. File the Petition:
The divorce process begins by filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with the Superior Court of California, County of San Diego. This document outlines the desired outcome of the divorce, including property division, child custody, and support arrangements.

4. Serve the Petition to Your Spouse:
Once the Petition is filed, it must be served to your spouse, along with other required documents. This can be done by a professional process server or through certified mail.

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5. Respond to the Petition:
After being served, your spouse has 30 days to respond to the Petition. If they fail to respond, you may proceed with a default judgment.

6. Financial Disclosures:
Both parties are required to complete and exchange financial disclosures, including income, assets, and debts. This information is crucial for determining property division and support arrangements.

7. Negotiate and Mediate:
In San Diego, alternative dispute resolution methods like negotiation and mediation are encouraged to reach agreements on child custody, support, and property division. This can save time, money, and reduce the stress associated with a courtroom battle.

8. Finalize the Divorce:
If both parties reach an agreement, the divorce can be finalized by submitting a Marital Settlement Agreement to the court. If an agreement cannot be reached, the case may proceed to trial.

9. Obtain the Divorce Decree:
Once the judge signs the final divorce decree, it becomes legally binding. This document outlines the terms of the divorce, including property division, child custody, and support arrangements.


1. How long does it take to get a divorce in San Diego?
The duration of a divorce process varies depending on the complexity of the case, court availability, and the level of cooperation between the parties. On average, it takes around six months to a year to finalize a divorce in San Diego.

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2. Can I file for divorce without a lawyer?
While it is possible to file for divorce without legal representation, it is highly recommended to consult with a family law attorney. They will ensure that your rights are protected and guide you through the legal complexities.

3. How is property divided in a San Diego divorce?
California follows the principle of community property, which means that all assets and debts acquired during the marriage are generally divided equally between the spouses. However, there are exceptions and factors that can influence the division.

4. What if my spouse and I cannot agree on child custody arrangements?
If you and your spouse cannot agree on child custody, the court will make a determination based on the best interests of the child. They may consider factors such as the child’s age, health, and relationship with each parent.

5. Do we have to go to court for the divorce process?
Not necessarily. If both parties can reach agreements through negotiation or mediation, a court appearance may not be required. However, if an agreement cannot be reached, the case may proceed to trial.

6. How much does a divorce cost in San Diego?
The cost of a divorce in San Diego varies depending on factors such as attorney fees, court fees, and the complexity of the case. On average, a divorce can cost anywhere from a few thousand to tens of thousands of dollars.

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7. Can I get spousal support?
Spousal support, also known as alimony, may be awarded based on factors such as the duration of the marriage, income disparity, and the supported spouse’s needs. The court will consider various factors to determine if spousal support is warranted.

8. Can I change my name during the divorce process?
Yes, you can request a name change as part of the divorce process. Simply include this request in your divorce petition.

9. Can I remarry immediately after the divorce is finalized?
Once the divorce is finalized and the court issues the final divorce decree, you are free to remarry. However, it is advisable to wait until you have the official divorce decree in hand before entering into a new marriage.

Navigating the divorce process can be overwhelming, but understanding the steps involved and seeking professional guidance can help ease the process. Remember, consulting with an experienced family law attorney in San Diego is crucial to protect your rights and ensure a fair resolution for all parties involved.