Divorce or Separation


Dissolution (Divorce) and Legal Separation – What is the difference?

    You are entitled to a dissolution of your marriage, sometimes referred to as a divorce, under California law based on irreconcilable differences.

  • Fault in causing the breakdown of the marriage is no longer relevant in California.
  • Your spouse does not need to give you permission or even agree with you.
  • To file for a dissolution you must have lived in the state of California for the last six months and in the county where you file for the last three months.
    If you do not meet these residency requirements you may still file for a legal separation. Before you file for a dissolution, understand that this will:

  • legally end your marriage forever
  • may divide your property and debts,
  • may provide for child support and spousal support, and
  • may determine who will care for the children and be entitled to make decisions on their behalf.
    When is the legal process complete and the divorce final?

  • The process of terminating your marital status begins once you file the initial paperwork. Before your dissolution is complete, all the issues must be resolved, either by default, agreement or through contested court proceedings; hearings and/or trial. Each case is different and will take a different amount of time. The process may take several months if the case is uncontested, or it could take years if there is a lot of disagreement or complex issues.
  • DO NOT ASSUME THAT YOU ARE DIVORCED UNTIL THERE IS A JUDGMENT FILED AND ENTERED BY THE COURT.
  • A person is able to remarry only after the judgment has been entered terminating marital status. The earliest date upon which marital status can be terminated is six months and one day after the respondent was served with the Petition and Summons for dissolution.
  • It is the responsibility of either or both parties to bring the case to judgment. It is important that you seek legal advice if you have any questions.
  • Anyone can obtain the necessary forms from the Clerk's Office of the Superior Court of California, County of San Joaquin to begin a dissolution. Forms can also be downloaded at www.courts.ca.gov/forms
  • The Family Law Facilitator/Pro Per Clinic can also review your completed paperwork, give you information on filing and service of process, and refer you to legal assistance and self-help resources

If you are not sure that you are ready for a divorce, you may want to seek personal or marriage counseling.

How to Get a Copy of a Final Judgment of Divorce

To obtain a copy of a Final Judgment of Divorce, you will need to either come to our office, or submit your request by mail.

If requesting a copy by mail, please send your request to:
San Joaquin Superior Court
Records Management
540 E Main St
Stockton, California 95202
Phone: (209) 992-5697

You will need to include:
* Case Number
* Names of both parties
* Approximate year of divorce
* Self-addressed postage paid envelope

If you do not have the case number, you may conduct a search for the case number by accessing our Public Records Index.

The fee is $15.00 for a certified copy of the divorce. Please send a check with not to exceed; $25.00 written in the memo line. We will fill in the correct amount and provide you with a receipt showing the amount you were charged. Make your check payable to Superior Court. Once your letter is received, you may expect a reply within 21 days.

If you are requesting a specific document other than the final judgment, please give us a detailed description of the document and if possible, the date it was filed. Write in the memo section of your check not to exceed $40.00. We will fill in the amount and provide you with a receipt showing the amount you were charged. Please include a self-addressed postage paid envelope.

Mediation and Arbitration