Divorce laws differ by state, and some of those differences matter a lot. If you need to know how to file for divorce in Riverside, contact a local family law attorney familiar with California divorce law. Never take second-hand advice from friends or family members. Every situation is unique, and every couple has questions that are specific to their case. A Riverside divorce attorney can provide answers that make the process of ending your marriage less stressful for everyone.

How to File for Divorce in Riverside

How to End Your Marriage in California

You have three options for ending your marriage in California. 


An annulment is only granted when the court rules that the marriage isn’t legally valid. For example, both spouses might be close kin, or one spouse might already be married to one or more other persons. A person is guilty of bigamy when they marry multiple partners. Bigamy has been illegal since 1862 in all 50 states.

Legal Separation 

While a court must approve and order a legal separation, it does not end your marriage. In most cases, it is the first step toward divorce. Sometimes, couples file for legal separation while considering whether to end their marriage. Other reasons a couple might prefer a legal separation to a divorce include the following: 

  • Tax benefits they receive as a married couple will end when they divorce.
  • Neither is financially stable enough to live independently.
  • Religious beliefs forbid them from divorcing.
  • They aren’t prepared to negotiate a full-blown divorce agreement.
  • One spouse is eligible to receive the other spouse’s social security benefits, which increase when they remain married.
  • They have to legally clarify issues such as child support, custody, or the division of property before divorcing.
  • They want to leave the option for reconciliation open.
  • One spouse doesn’t meet the residency requirement for divorce.


Divorce is the most common way to end a marriage. The legal dissolution of a marriage is one of the most stressful things you can go through. Although it is common, divorce is a complicated process that involves many issues. Some of the most complex matters are the division of property and those involving children. Different types of divorce have varying levels of impact on families.

You must establish residency in California before getting divorced. Either one or both spouses must reside in California for six months or longer before filing for a divorce. In addition, at least one spouse must have lived in the county for three months before filing. For example, one spouse must have lived in Riverside County before they can file for a divorce in that county.

Once couples ask an attorney how to file for divorce in Riverside, they might realize that they don’t meet the residency requirement. Instead, they might file for a legal separation. There are no residency requirements for separation. Once the requirements are met, the court amends the legal separation to a divorce.

One advantage of a legal separation is that it’s easier when you’re ready to move forward with a divorce. If you decide to reconcile, you just submit a request to the court. If you decide to end the marriage, a lot of the issues are already settled, and the divorce procedure is much simpler.

However, there are also some disadvantages of legal separation. For one, you can’t marry someone else as your marriage isn’t dissolved. Another is the mental strain that a separation places on some relationships. When couples use the time apart to evaluate their relationship, it often leads to its downfall.

Types of Divorce

California has several types of divorce, including: 

  1. No-Fault
  2. Uncontested
  3. Contested
  4. Simplified
  5. Mediated
  6. Limited
  7. Collaborative

No-Fault Divorce

California is a “no-fault” state, meaning that neither party must prove wrongdoing. Either party can opt out of marriage with or without the other party’s agreement. Most often, couples claim “irreconcilable differences” as their reason without any need for further detail.

People often classify divorce in California as no-fault without distinguishing between the different types. While fault is never an issue in a divorce, the type of divorce you opt for determines the process for filing, the length and cost of the procedure, and your rights.

Uncontested Divorce

An uncontested divorce is one where both parties agree on all aspects of their divorce, such as child custody, visitation, financial issues, and division of property. Still, it’s best to consult a divorce attorney during an uncontested divorce. Failing to talk with a divorce attorney is one of the biggest mistakes people make in an uncontested divorce.

Contested Divorce

A contested divorce is when the spouses strongly disagree on some or all issues. These divorces can take years to settle and cost a lot of money. Still, representing yourself in uncontested divorce could cost you a great deal. California’s divorce law is complex. Without an attorney, you might give up rights that you never knew you had. That includes financial assets you will need in the future.

There are resources on how to file for divorce on your own. You can find all the forms you need online. Failing to complete the forms correctly could prove costly. There is also the potential for your uncontested divorce to become contested. Issues might arise during the process that leaves you unable to finish the process. A divorce attorney can foresee any potential areas of conflict and help you settle them quickly and fairly.

Simplified Divorce

Couples who have been married for a short time might apply for a simplified divorce in California. This type of divorce does have some special requirements, including that the couple must file jointly under the no-fault ground of irreconcilable differences. Both partners must have lived in the state for six months or longer. Also, one spouse must have lived in Riverside for a minimum of three months.

Couples granted a simplified divorce in California can’t be married for more than five years. There can’t be any children born or adopted, and you can’t be pregnant at the time of filing. The couple can’t own real property together or have in excess of $4,000 in joint debt, with the exception of car loans. Finally, the community property between them cannot exceed $25,000. This type of divorce waives either spouse’s right to financial support.

If you meet the requirements and file for a simple divorce or summary dissolution, you must represent yourself in court. It’s a good idea to talk to a divorce attorney before going to court to gain a better understanding of the law.

Mediated Divorce

Mediation is a common strategy for working out issues that a couple currently don’t agree on and reaching a fair solution. Both parties sit down in a casual setting to negotiate the issues, while a neutral third party facilitates the discussion. Mediation is most effective for couples who agree on most issues but need guidance settling the remaining issues. Couples in highly contested divorces with more issues to resolve aren’t as successful at mediation. They are less likely to work out a reasonable solution. 

A successful mediation is one in which both spouses agree to a solution. If they fail to accept a solution, the case will go to court. Both parties must abide by the court’s decisions.

Limited Divorce

This type of divorce is similar to legal separation. It is a court-supervised process that provides couples with the time they need to settle their issues. You can’t live together after a limited divorce, but the marriage is not ended.

Collaborative Divorce

The goal of collaborative divorce is to resolve disputes without becoming combative. Both spouses come together with lawyers trained in collaborative divorce. It costs less, and the resolutions don’t fall to a judge. One drawback of collaborative divorce is that you must agree to retain a divorce lawyer moving forward if the collaborative divorce fails. That means starting over with a family law attorney who isn’t familiar with your case.

Filing for Divorce

Which Type of Divorce Is Right for Me?

The best type of divorce for you depends on your situation. Accepting that your marriage is over is never easy. Ending a marriage is a call that some couples make together. In other cases, one spouse might want a divorce when the other one doesn’t, which typically leads to a more contested divorce. 

The best place to start is with a knowledgeable family law attorney you can trust. During a consultation, the attorney will look at your situation. They will evaluate which issues are settled and which ones aren’t. You might learn that you have more rights than you realized. The attorney will tell you your options and advise you about which type of divorce is best for your needs.

How to File for Divorce with Children

It is easy for couples to get caught up in a divorce, especially if it is contentious. Children pay a high price when their parents spend months or even years fighting over their assets. However, it’s important not to forget the biggest asset of all: the children.

Divorces should never be about which spouse comes out the “winner.” With a contested divorce, the law determines the outcome of all the issues. A prolonged divorce case only adds to the stress and uncertainty that the children will have to endure.

Even when a divorce is not contested, it is crucial to monitor its impact on the children. Under the best circumstances, divorce means the breakdown of the family unit. It alters everything that the child is familiar with. If a child isn’t adjusting well, it might be due to changes in parenting.

Parenting is already difficult, but it becomes even more challenging once the family structure breaks down. As a parent, it is your responsibility to discuss what’s going on with your children. Keep things open and honest.

It’s best to break the news of the divorce as a couple. Don’t wait until the other parent leaves to tell them why. Keep the explanation simple and omit any gory details. Something like “Daddy has a new girlfriend that he likes more than us” will hurt your children, not your spouse. Never demonize the other parent or put your children in the middle by asking them questions about what goes on at the other house.

Fighting for Your Children

Your children are the most important people in the world. Disagreements over issues like child custody and child support are emotionally draining. In addition to concerns about the emotional impact the divorce has on your children, you must also worry about caring for them financially. You need a divorce attorney who understands the importance of family. They will help you understand your rights and what assets you and your children deserve. Give them the brightest future possible by getting the best outcome from your divorce.

Once your divorce case goes into the court system, California has an obligation to rule in favor of the child’s best interests. The court will base its rulings on numerous factors, including each parent’s financial situation, school schedules, housing arrangements, and the residences of extended family.

Most often, the court focuses on maintaining a custody arrangement that causes minimal interruption to the children’s daily routine. They strive to place children in a positive, supportive environment. The courts also evaluate whether the children will benefit from continued contact with both parents.

When judges see that both parents are working toward their children’s best interests, they may agree to any arrangements the parents have made. Every divorcing couple has issues they must address through their divorce process. They should always keep the well-being, health, and security of the children in mind when making any decision.

Why Choose Heath Baker Law?

Attorney Heath Baker is a former police officer and private investigator who knows the ins and outs of the law. He has years of experience in the courts, investigations, and judicial process in Riverside. Mr. Baker has unique skills that he will use for the benefit of your family. He knows that nothing is more important than your kids, and he will fight for them.If you have questions about how to file for divorce or any issues related to child custody or support, contact us today. The Law Office of Heath L. Baker is dedicated to helping Riverside families find the answers they need for a brighter future.