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There are three ways to end a marriage or domestic partnership in the state of California: 

  • Divorce,

  • Legal Separation and

  • Annulment


There is no need for both spouses or domestic partners agree to end the marriage. Only one party, spouse or partner can decide to end it. The other spouse cannot stop the process. The divorce will go through even if one spouse or partner does not participate. The other spouse/partner will still be able to get a “default” judgment.


California is a "No Fault" Divorce State. 

If a divorce is filed because the spouse or partner did something wrong, it does not have to be proven. Qualification for a no fault divorce requires one spouse or domestic partner stating the couple cannot get along. “Irreconcilable Differences” is the legal term for this. Planning and preparation needs to start immediately when the decision is made to end a marriage or domestic partnership. Before you contact a lawyer, this is crucial and can save you time and money during the process.


There is no advantage by the court to the first person to file. Also, there is no disadvantage to the person who responds to the case, by the court. A bifurcation (divorce) needs to be filed as well for legal separation. It also needs to be filed for an annulment for registered partnership or domestic partnerships. In addition to other restrictions, a limited exception may be made for domestic partners to end their relationship in a summary process through the Secretary of State if they have been registered for less than five years and they have no children, no real property, very few assets or debts and a written agreement on dividing their property.


Effect of Divorce on Domestic Partnerships

Domestic partnerships are not recognized by federal law for most purposes such as Medicare, immigration law, veteran’s benefits and federal tax laws. Federal purposes such as Social Security for domestic partners may be recognized. The same rights may not be available for domestic partners if they leave the state of California because other states may not recognize the domestic partnership. Consult an experienced divorce attorney serving all of San Diego County if you are ending a domestic partnership and any of these issues apply to you.


If you have any questions regarding family law issues related to divorce, child support, child custody or same sex unions, please contact San Diego Divorce Attorney Joseph Willmore to discuss your case. Call us today at (619) 550-6738 to discuss how to protect your rights and interests.

Joseph Willmore, Esq. 



Experienced San Diego divorce attorney Joseph Willmore understands how difficult of a decision divorce can be. When you decide to get divorced, you are taking a bold step towards taking your life back - and it's important to remember that you have resources to help you. There is no substitute for a top-rated divorce attorney. Beware of paralegals that advertise cheap divorces on craigslist and other websites - they are illegally practicing law and they will make mistakes that will cost you greatly in the long run. 


There are many ways to get divorced, but hiring an experienced divorce attorney ensures that you do it the correct way - making sure that your rights are protected every step of the way - making sure that nobody is able to take advantage of your vulnerability. We are here to help. Let us show you how we can help you. 




Our client agreements are comprehensive, but easy to read and understand. 


Phone calls returned the same day, and your needs are never ignored. 


We are problem solvers that work hard to find you legal solutions within your budget


101 W. Broadway,

Suite #1770

San Diego, CA 92101

Tel: 619-550-6738

Fax: 619-236-0677

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