Divorce Q&A

Marital dissolution (divorce) is the termination of a marriage by a court order or agreement. Upon finalization of a divorce, both spouses are considered to be single, and assets and income of each spouse are considered to be their separate property. The divorce process may include the division of assets and debts acquired during the marriage, determination of spousal support (alimony), and child custody, visitation and support arrangements.

Each divorce is different. To speak to a lawyer about your situation, please call Viola Law Firm in San Mateo at 650-532-9389 or contact us online. Here are answers to common questions our attorneys receive.


Is a marital dissolution the same thing as a divorce?
Yes. Marital dissolution is the legal term for divorce. People seeking divorce must file a petition for dissolution of their marriage with the court.

What is the difference between a divorce and a legal separation?
When a divorce is finalized, the parties are considered single and can remarry. When a legal separation is finalized, the parties remain married and may not marry other individuals.

What happens if my spouse files for divorce and I don't want to get divorced?
In California, one spouse may file for divorce without a specific reason or the consent of the other spouse. One spouse can end the marriage even if the other spouse does not agree.

My wife filed a petition for dissolution. Do I have to respond?
Failure to respond to a petition for dissolution will not stop the court from granting the request for a divorce. The court may also enter orders regarding assets, liabilities, spousal support, and child custody, visitation and support without the input of the absent party. This is commonly referred to as a default judgment. It is beneficial for each party to actively participate in the divorce process.

How long do I need to live in California before I can file for divorce in California?
To file for divorce in California, at least one spouse must live in the state for six months and must be a resident of the county where the petition for dissolution is filed for at least three months immediately preceding the filing of the petition.

How long must I wait before my divorce is final?
The court may enter a judgment terminating the marital relationship once six months have passed since the date the initial summons and petition for dissolution was served. Several requirements must be met before a court will finalize a divorce.

Is there a requirement for how long I need to live in California before I can be legally separated?
No. There is no residency requirement for filing a petition for legal separation.

What is an annulment?
An annulment is different from a divorce. An annulment voids a marriage, treating it as if it never occurred. Annulments are rare and are granted only if a court determines that the marriage was not legal.

How can I have my marriage annulled?
To have a marriage annulled, a party must establish that the marriage was invalid. A marriage is void or voidable and may be annulled for a variety of reasons, including one party being a minor, specific kinds of fraud and lack of capacity or consent.