Divorce, legal separation, or nullity 

Divorce, Legal Separation, or nullity 

In California, there are three main ways to end a marriage and/or domestic partnership.
• Divorce
• Legal Separation
• Annulment

A divorce (also called "dissolution of marriage" or "dissolution of domestic partnership") is a legal proceeding that ends your marriage and/or domestic partnership.  After a divorce, you are single and can remarry or be in a domestic partnership again. You can ask the court to make orders on the following once you file your case:
• Custody and Visitation
• Child Support
• Spousal/Partner Support
• Property Division
• Domestic Violence Restraining Order
• Attorney's Fees 

A legal separation does not end your marriage and/or domestic partnership. You cannot remarry or enter into a domestic partnership with someone else at the end of a legal separation. However, you can still ask the court to make the same orders as in a divorce. You do not need to meet California's residency requirement to file for a legal separation. If you file for a legal separation, you may later be able to file an amended petition to ask the Court for a divorce, after you meet the residency requirements.

An annulment (or “nullity of marriage” and/or “nullity of domestic partnership”) is when a court says your marriage and/or domestic partnership is NOT legally valid. It is difficult to prove and rarely granted. A marriage and/or domestic partnership that is incestuous or bigamous is never valid and therefore VOID. Other marriages and/or domestic partnerships are VOIDABLE based on:
• Petitioner’s age at the time of marriage and/or domestic partnership 
• Prior existing marriage and/or domestic partnership
• Unsound mind
• Fraud
• Force
• Physical incapacity

A filing fee will be charged to file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage/Domestic Partnership/Legal Separation/Nullity.  To find the current fee, please see our fee schedule.  If you cannot afford the filing fee, you may complete an Application for Waiver of Fees.

Frequently asked questions