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Residency requirements in California: Dissolution, legal separation, and domestic violence

Those who are going through a divorce or other family law matter likely know that state law will guide their options. This is true whether dealing with divorce, separation, or domestic violence. One of the aspects of the law that can vary depending on the state are residency requirements. Those who have lived in one state since their marriage likely need not worry, but this issue can be particularly tricky for those who recently moved to another state. The following will dive into residency requirements for these matters in the state of California, focusing on three of the most common family law issues.

#1: Residency requirements for dissolution

To move forward with a divorce in California, either the individual who is filing the petition for the divorce or the spouse must have lived in California for at least six months prior the filing. They must also have lived in the county they file for the past three months.

#2: Residency requirements for legal separation

The requirements for legal separation are not as strict. An individual can file for legal separation in California as soon as they make the move to the state. Some divorcing couples choose to first file for legal separation and then later change the filing to divorce once they meet the residency requirements noted above.

#3: Residency requirements for domestic violence

Those who are the victims of domestic violence can get a restraining order. This can include an emergency order for immediate needs that generally last no longer than 72 hours and a temporary restraining order to last for a longer period of time.

This court order serves as a legal tool to give you recourse if the offender attempts to make contact, including the ability to call the police to enforce the order. Although you need to provide details to support the need for a restraining order, there are generally not residency requirements. Anyone present in the state of California can file these papers with the court.

What happens if I do not meet residency requirements?

A failure to meet requirements can mean that the court will deny the petition. As we see above, there are often other options. Those going through a divorce, which does have strict residency requirements, could consider a legal separation. This can provide the time needed to establish residency requirements. Those who need protection while waiting to meet these requirements can also seek a restraining order.

These are just a few of the many issues to navigate when trying to resolve a family law matter. An attorney experienced in these matters can review your case and discuss your options, working with you to find a resolution that is right for your family.