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How to Get a Divorce: The Basics

Gavel and wedding rings on a table

If you and your spouse believe that divorce is the best option, there are several factors that you must consider. A divorce can be difficult to endure, especially when you are unsure of where to start. At Chung & Ignacio, our Rancho Cucamonga divorce attorneys believe that it’s important to understand the basics of how to get a divorce. This includes any requirements you must meet, what you might need to bring to a lawyer, and if you should file first.

Requirements for Residency

If you are looking to file for divorce in California, one or both of the spouses must be a resident for six months. This means that they have lived in California for 180 days or more. After the divorce has been filed and the other spouse has received the paperwork, the divorce cannot be finalized for another six months from the date the papers were delivered.

Documents You May Need

Keep in mind, divorce may not always just be about the two spouses going their separate ways. There are numerous factors involved such as custody if you have kids, property division, child support, alimony, and more. Most of these additional factors require some documentation such as bank statements, information regarding the marital home, assets, and more. These documents can be used in your divorce.

Filing First

When you decide to divorce, it is important to file first. Some people feel that it doesn’t matter who files first, but oftentimes, taking the first action can help you set the tone for the entire divorce. This includes choosing the jurisdiction, having more time for preparation, accessing financial statements before the spouse tries to change things, and presenting your case first.

Child Custody

If you have children, the divorce will have an impact on their lives as well. In these matters, child custody can be complex. Judges most often want to make sure the children have the opportunity to continue their relationship with both children. At the end of the day, judges look for the best interests of the children to best protect their well-being.


There are two types of support that may need to be considered: child support and spousal support (or alimony). If children are involved, one of the spouses may be required to pay child support. These payments can go to clothes, food, and other essential items the children may need. Spousal support is often issued to maintain a standard of living. In some cases, one spouse may not have worked in order to take care of the kids. They may require vocational training and spousal support can help cover this spouse’s expenses while they work to acquire employment.

Property Division

This is where things can become tricky. The way California views property, all assets, property, and debts acquired during the marriage are equally shared among the two spouses. This can include the home, the cars, bank accounts, and more. California also recognizes separate property, which is items that were brought into the marriage by either spouse, as well as inheritances and gifts.

In most cases, divorce is less stressful if you and your spouse are able to work together on the details of your matter. You can discuss all of the factors and if you agree, the process can be much quicker. If matters are contentious, you can definitely benefit from skilled legal counsel. In either case, our Rancho Cucamonga family law lawyers at Chung & Ignacio are ready to help you move forward to the next chapter of your life.

Call us today and learn more about your rights in a divorce and how our firm may be able to help you. Se habla Español.