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Divorce, Separation, & Annulment

Ending a Marriage or Domestic Partnership

In California, there are three main ways to end a marriage 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

Legal Separation

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.

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