Skip to main content
Skip to main content.

Family Law Division

The Family Law division handles actions involving marital and domestic partnership relationships, relationships between parents and children, and violence between family members.

The family law division handles the following legal issues:

  • Divorce (Dissolution), Legal Separation, Nullity
  • Establish Parental Relationship (Paternity), Petition for Custody and Support
  • Child Custody and Visitation
  • Child Support, Spousal Support, Family Support
  • Marital Property Division
  • Domestic Violence Restraining Orders
  • Dept. of Child Support Services, Child Support Actions

Case Types

Parties alleging domestic violence may file for a Domestic Violence Restraining Order. See the Domestic Violence page for additional information.

Domestic Violence

A Dissolution of Marriage or Registered Domestic Partnership is a legal action that ends marriage or a registered domestic partnership.

  • Residency Requirement: To obtain a divorce in California, you or your spouse/partner must have lived in California for the last six months and have lived for the last three months in the county where you file for divorce.
  • No "Fault" Required: No one has to prove that either spouse or partner is "guilty" or "innocent".
  • It is not necessary that both persons agree to end the relationship. One spouse or partner cannot make the other stay in the relationship.
  • It takes a minimum of six months from the date of divorce papers are served (given to ) the other party before a divorce can be final. However, you are not automatically divorced at the end of six months. At least one spouse/partner must complete the required legal process and obtain a written judgment.

For more information about dissolutions, see the California Courts' Self-Help page on Divorce in California.

Divorce in California

A Legal Separation is a legal action filed by a married person or domestic partner who wants to stay married or in the domestic partnership, but also wants to resolve all other issues, such as child custody, child and spousal support, and property division.

  • There are no residency requirements for obtaining a Legal Separation.
  • Sometimes a person will file a legal separation because he/she does not meet the residency requirements for filing for a divorce. Then, after the residency requirements are met, the action is amended from a legal separation to a divorce (Dissolution).
  • Sometimes people stay in a marriage or domestic partnership for religious reasons or to be able to retain medical insurance benefits for a spouse or partner.

For more information about legal separations, see the California Courts' Self-Help page on Legal Separation.

Legal Separation

A Nullity of Marriage or Domestic Partnership (Annulment) is a legal action to determine that a marriage or domestic partnership is not legally valid. An annulment restores the parties to the status of single persons, as though they were never married.

  • Certain conditions must be met before an Annulment is granted.
  • The person who files for the annulment will have to prove to the Court that one of the conditions for an Annulment has been met.
  • There are no residency requirements.

For more information about nullity, see the California Courts' Self-Help page on Annulment.


This action can be used by a married couple to end the marriage. This action is very limited and can only be used by a married couple which meets the following requirements:

  • The parties have been married for less than five (5) years as of the date the action is filed.
  • There are no children together born before or during the marriage, including by adoption, and the wife to her knowledge is not pregnant as of the date the action is filed.
  • Neither party has any interest/ownership in real estate.

The married couple jointly signs the necessary paperwork and the originals are filed with the Court. After waiting six (6) months, either party can file the document requesting the marriage is ended.

For more information about summary dissolutions, see the California Courts' Self-Help page Find our if you qualify for summary dissolution.

Summary Dissolution

Many different types of cases involve the custody, support, and visitation of children. Some of these are Dissolution or Separation, Parentage, Custody and Domestic Violence cases. The Court has a goal of making sure children spend time with both parents, are supported by both parents, and have a plan that is in their best interest.

The Court has a mediator to further the goals as stated above and to assist parents in reaching a parenting plan. View the Family Court Services page for additional information.

Family Court Services

This is also called a "parentage" or "paternity" case. A paternity case is a legal action filed by an unmarried mother or unmarried father to establish who is the legal father of a child or children. In order to obtain child support, or custody and visitation orders, unmarried parents must first establish paternity.

For more information on paternity, see the California Courts' Self-Help page on Parentage in California.

Parentage (Paternity)

A minor may petition the Court for a declaration of emancipation if the minor is at least 14 years of age, willingly lives separately from parents, and managing their own personal financial affairs.

For additional information on emancipation, see the California Courts' Self-Help page on Emancipation in California.

Emancipation in California

Was this helpful?

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.