What Is a Divorce Petition?

When a couple or one spouse in a marriage wants a divorce, the process begins with filing a divorce petition (sometimes called a complaint) with the Orange County Court. Some couples who reach a mutual decision to divorce may file a divorce petition jointly. Anyone considering divorce in Orange County should understand divorce petitions and how the Court handles divorce.

A divorce petition is similar to a complaint a plaintiff would file for a civil action. The spouse who wants the divorce will file the petition with the Orange County Court to start the process. Either the spouse or a court representative will then serve the other spouse divorce papers.

Filing a Petition

If one spouse wishes to end his or her marriage and the other spouse does not, the divorcing spouse will need to file the divorce petition to start the process of ending the marriage. Whether the other spouse agrees to the divorce or wants to divorce is irrelevant – the law does not allow someone in this situation to force his or her spouse to remain in the marriage. If one of the spouses does not attend divorce proceedings or agree to the divorce, the court will likely issue a default judgment and grant the divorce to the petitioning spouse.

California is a “no-fault” state when it comes to divorce. This means a spouse petitioning for divorce does not need to prove his or her spouse is “at fault” for any particular issue. The only two legally-defined reasons for ending a marriage in California are incurable insanity or irreconcilable differences, which covers all the reasons one could have for desiring to end a marriage. Divorces end in one of three ways in Orange County:

  • Dissolution, also known simply as divorce. Dissolution is an official ending of a legal marriage and terminates all legal bonds between the divorcing spouses.
  • Legal separation. This allows a couple to split their finances and live in different places, but it does not end the legal marriage. It allows the spouses to split assets, debts, property, and child custody.
  • This ruling essentially erases the marriage from the official record because the marriage was illegitimate from the beginning. This could be due to incest, forcible coercion, bigamy (being married to more than one person), or any other issues that would compromise the validity of a marriage.

Requirements for Filing Divorce Petitions in Orange County

Orange County upholds residency restrictions for divorce filings in the area. To file for divorce in Orange County, you must have lived in California for the past six months prior to filing the petition and lived in Orange County for the three months immediately preceding the petition filing.

Divorce in Orange County may seem straightforward, but the complexity of any given divorce case will hinge on how the divorcing couple feel about one another and the divorce. If they have no children, minimal shared assets, and are in mutual agreement that the marriage is unsalvageable, the divorce will likely proceed quickly and smoothly. In contentious divorce cases, spouses will have to come to an agreement concerning shared property, debts, child custody, child support, and many other issues. Anyone considering divorce in Orange County should consult a qualified divorce attorney to help navigate the process.