Guide to Filing for Divorce in Orange County [2024 Updated]

By Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP | Apr 21, 2024

If you are looking to file for divorce, Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP, has created a guide to filing for divorce in Orange County, California, to provide insight and guidance into the process. A divorce can be a big life change and adjustment. For some, this is positive, and for others, it is negative or a mix of both, and as you are in the midst of that, it is essential to know what your rights and responsibilities are so there are no surprises or unexpected concerns throughout the process.

Taking the first step can often feel like the hardest, but it is necessary to initiate legal action. The state of California has a generalized process for filing for a divorce, and each case must take certain steps to do so lawfully. Divorce law can be complicated, and speaking with a trusted attorney is advised, even before you begin the process of a divorce. Understanding your options and obligations is key to a successful outcome.

Five Key Steps for Filing for Divorce in Orange County

Learning the steps for filing a divorce in Orange County can help take elements of concern and anxiety out of the equation as you know what you are getting into and what actions you need to take along the way. Each divorce comes with its unique set of considerations and complications, but the general outline for taking this legal action remains the same. Below are five key steps to be aware of when filing for a divorce in Orange County.

  1. Determine Eligibility: In Orange County, there is a residency requirement that states you or your spouse must have lived in California for at least the past six months before you file divorce paperwork, and in Orange County, the requirement is the previous three months. This means that if you have not lived in the state or county for this amount of time, you will not be allowed to proceed with the legal action.
  2. Documents: There are several key documents that need to be turned in and filled out in a divorce. This includes the initial divorce petition, the summons, the Family Law Declaration, and the Declaration Under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction & Enforcement Act, if applicable. All necessary forms can be found on the Orange County Superior Court’s website or in person at the clerk’s office.
  3. Filing the Petition: You must file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with the Orange County Superior Court. The petition will outline the official grounds for divorce and request specific relief such as child custody, spousal support, and property division.
  4. Serve Your Spouse: The next step after the petition is that you must officially serve a copy of the petition and any other required documentation, to your spouse. This can be done in a variety of ways, such as through a personal delivery by a third party or by certified mail with a return receipt.
  5. Wait For a Response: Your spouse is required to officially file a response to the petition within 30 days after they have been served or 60 days if they were served outside of California. Their response must outline the issues raised in the petition and can include a counterclaim or request for relief.

In the event that your spouse contests the divorce, it is highly recommended that you receive counsel from a qualified and trusted local attorney to determine the necessary next steps. Some divorces can be settled in mediation conversations, while others may require litigation to find solutions and resolution. In a divorce, spouses are faced with countless decisions that lead to a wide array of outcomes and implications, so the support of an unbiased lawyer is essential.


Q: How Much Does It Cost to File for Divorce in Orange County, California?

A: How much it costs to file for a divorce in Orange County, California is $435. If this amount is too high, individuals can file a request to waive the court fees, where you will share your income, and if you qualify, you will not have to pay. It is highly recommended that you speak with a divorce attorney to get advice on your case where additional fees will be required.

Q: How Long Does It Take to Get a Divorce in Orange County, California?

A: The length of time it takes to get a divorce in Orange County, California, depends on the specific circumstances of your case. In uncontested divorce cases where there are no disputes or layered issues such as custody, the divorce process can move quickly. For highly contested divorce cases with unique considerations, the timeline will be much longer. If you are looking for an estimated timeline, speak with a local divorce lawyer to get accurate insight.

Q: What Is the First Step in Filing for Divorce in California?

A: The first step in filing for divorce in California is to file a divorce petition. After you have decided to take this legal action, and you have ensured you meet the residency requirements, to initiate action is to file the divorce petition, where information surrounding your marriage will be required. A summons form will be sent to your spouse, notifying them that you have initiated a divorce suit against them.

Q: Where Do You File Divorce Papers in Orange County, California?

A: You can file divorce papers in Orange County, California, at the Family Law Clerk’s Office. This is where Orange County residents can file court documents regarding all family matters like divorce, separation, paternity, family support, domestic violence, nullity, and more.

Speak With a Qualified Orange County, California Divorce Lawyer Today

If you are looking to file for a divorce in Orange County, California, speak with a divorce lawyer from Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP, today. One of our attorneys can walk you through the process step by step, ensuring you are informed of your rights and responsibilities throughout the legal process. You deserve to have your interests upheld during your divorce, and the support of a qualified attorney can do just that. Reach out today to set up a consultation to learn more.

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