Getting a Divorce in California if You were Married in a Different State

Thousands of people move to California every year. Whether they are moving for work or a for a change in lifestyle or scenery, they often bring their legal issues with them. For those who were married in another state, it is important to understand how California treats your marriage, and how you can seek a divorce under CA law. It is also important to understand how California’s “no-fault” divorce rules may differ from your home state’s rules. Even if you were born and raised in CA, if you got married out-of-state, California’s divorce rules would apply for a divorce in California.
For a free consultation on your California divorce, call our Ventura divorce lawyers today. The California family lawyers at The Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth may be able to help you file for divorce in California, and can represent you in issues of asset division, spousal support, or child support and custody. For your free consultation, call (805) 643-5555 today.

When Can I Get a Divorce in a Different State than the One I was Married In?

US law recognizes marriages based on a “place of celebration” rule. This means that as long as the marriage was valid where it was celebrated, it will be held as valid in other states as well. Because different states have different rules, you must follow the marriage rules of the state where the marriage physically occurs. This rule was important when interracial or same-sex marriage was illegal; people would get married in another state, then go home, and their marriage would still be valid.
This means that if you move to California after being married in another state, your marriage carries over. Consequently, you cannot simply end a marriage by leaving the state; you will still need a divorce to end a valid marriage.
Most states, including California, have a “residency requirement” to get divorced in state court. Not only does California require that you have lived in the State of California before getting a divorce in CA, it also requires that you lived in the county where you will be divorced. Specifically, in order to get a divorce in California, you must have:

  • Lived in California for the past 6 months and
  • Lived In the county where you will file for divorce for the past 3 months.

This is required no matter where your marriage took place. If you were a California resident for years, but were married on a trip to another state, you should satisfy the requirements. Additionally, if you were married in another state where you lived, then moved to California, you can get divorced as soon as you have lived here long enough.

Only one party needs to satisfy the residency requirement, meaning that you can get a divorce in California as long as at least one spouse lived here long enough. If you live in different counties, you can file in either county. So, if you live in Ventura County, but your spouse moved to another county, you may still be able to file in Ventura County.

No-Fault Grounds for California Divorce for an Out-of-State Marriage

If you were married in another state, the laws of that state govern the formation of the marriage. You must have followed their rules for marriage licenses, officiants, ceremonies, and marriage certification. If you did not, your marriage may be invalid in the first place, and easier to end. Talk to an attorney to see if your out-of-state marriage is valid under CA law.
Similarly, the state that oversees the divorce uses its own laws. Regardless of what forms of divorce are allowed in the state where you were married, you must follow California law during a divorce in California. Thus, you will need to follow California’s “no-fault” divorce rules

Even if fault grounds for divorce would have been available in the state where you were married, the only available grounds for divorce in CA are no-fault divorce grounds. If one spouse committed adultery, was abusive, or abandoned you, you do not need to prove these facts in court to get a divorce. Instead, the only requirement to justify a divorce under California law is “irreconcilable differences.” This means proving to a court that the marriage is broken and cannot be fixed.

These no-fault divorce grounds allow you to file for divorce and have it granted, often within 6 months. Some judges may require a trial separation period or couples’ counseling to ensure that there is no way to repair the marriage. After showing the court you have irreconcilable differences and meet the residency requirements, the court can dissolve a marriage from any state. However, issues of child custody, child support, spousal support, and asset division may be more difficult. Especially if there is an existing child support or custody order from another state’s court, talk to an attorney about handling the case in California.

Ventura Divorce Lawyers

The Ventura divorce attorneys at The Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth may be able to help you file for divorce in California, even if your marriage took place in another state. For a free consultation on your divorce case, contact our Ventura law offices today at (805) 643-5555.

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