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California Divorce Self-Help Center

Many customer California divorce questions are answered here.  Browse from the topics below or use the search box to narrow your search.
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General Information State Procedures   Custody, Visitation, Support
  Property and Debts   Special Circumstances Additional Resources
How does DivorceWriter work? 375
First, complete the basic pre-purchase portion of the online interview. Then, set up your... more
What happens after I receive my DivorceWriter documents? 1917
Just follow the step-by-step instructions included with your DivorceWriter package, which ... more
How do I make changes to my documents after I receive them? 1449
If you want to make changes to any of your documents after receiving them in the mail, you... more
Will DivorceWriter documents work in my state and/or in my situation? 1969
DivorceWriter's goal is to provide self-help divorce documents. However, DivorceWriter is ... more
I finished the online interview. How long will it take to receive my documents? 1981
Get your DivorceWriter documents immediately using the instant download option. You may al... more
I want to use DivorceWriter to prepare my own divorce documents. What do I do next? 1864
To get started, click on "Start the Process" above. You will be taken to our online inter... more
Can I use DivorceWriter in my state? 1979
DivorceWriter offers divorce documents for nearly every U.S. state and the District of Col... more
What if I need additional documents that were not included in my DivorceWriter package? 2000
Contact customer service at info@divorcewriter.com with the name or form number of the the... more
What is the online interview? 1863
In as little as 10-15 minutes, the online interview allows you to enter the information ne... more
Can you overnight my documents to me so that I can have them right away? 2586
Get your DivorceWriter documents immediately using the instant download option. You may a... more
How do I change my password? 1972
To change your password you must first log back into your account using the login section ... more
How do I make changes to my existing DivorceWriter account? 1973
If you already have a DivorceWriter account and need to make changes to your online interv... more
Does DivorceWriter provide documents for annulments? 2165
No. DivorceWriter does not currently provide documents for annulments.
Can my spouse and I get a divorce if we are still living together? 1857
Yes. You can divorce while still living in the same residence with your spouse.
What is included? 3784
The DivorceWriter package includes all forms needed to complete your divorce. These state... more
Will my documents be completed or will I have to fill them out myself when I receive them? 3121
For the most part, your DivorceWriter documents arrive completed with the information that... more
Does it matter which spouse files for divorce? 3502
Generally speaking, both spouses should have the same rights in a divorce proceeding regar... more
How do I serve a spouse that lives in a different state or country? 3810
The process for serving a spouse that lives in another state or country depends on the sta... more
Can I create another divorce in my account?  2712
Yes, you can purchase additional divorces from your Account Summary page. Login to your a... more
What's the difference between an Acknowledgement and a Jurat? 3634
With an Acknowledgement, the notary is certifying that the signer appeared before the nota... more
What is DivorceWriter's fax number? 3419
DivorceWriter's fax number is (800) 344 9889.
I need a form that is not available online or in the DivorceWriter's supplemental forms database. How can I find a sample form elsewhere? 3352
Divorce documents are public record, so it is usually possible to obtain a copy of one or ... more
I didn't list any property or debts in the online interview. Why do some of my documents ask the court to divide property and debts? 3360
Asking the Court for to divide property and debts fairly is standard language in the Divor... more
Do we need to notify the court of any address changes during the divorce? 3405
Any questions concerning the requirements for notifying the court about changes of address... more
We were married in a foreign country. Can we divorce in the U.S.?  2635
As long as you meet the residency requirements for filing for divorce in the state where y... more
I didn't list any property or debts in the online interview. Why do some of my documents ask the court to divide our property and/or debts? 3361
The Divorce Petitions/Divorce Complaints in most states contain language asking the Court ... more
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How long does it take to get a divorce in California? 1959
After you file for divorce, you will receive a Divorce Decree in the mail that is signed by the judge and contains the date that the divorce will be officially final. In uncontested divorces, that date is 6 months + 1 day from the date the divorce was filed.
How much is the filing fee in California? 726
The filing fee charged by the Court is NOT included in the DivorceWriter price. California has adopted a statewide fee schedule, which requires a filing fee of $435.00 (as of 1/1/2014) for a dissolution of marriage.
What are the steps to getting a divorce in California? 1971
1) File the divorce papers with the Superior Court Clerk and pay the filing fee of $435.00 (as of 1/1/14). Then, have a friend or relative mail a copy of the divorce papers to your spouse.
2) File the Marital Settlement Agreement and related documents with the Clerk after they have been signed by you and your spouse.
3) Receive the Judgment finalizing your divorce approximately 6 months + 1 day from the date you filed for divorce.
How do I serve my spouse with the divorce papers in California? 1961
The spouse who filed for divorce chooses a friend or relative to mail divorce papers to the non-filing spouse. Later, the server and the non-filing spouse each sign a document verifying service, which is filed with the Clerk.

Note: San Diego County filers are generally required to hand-deliver documents to the non-filing spouse unless this is not possible.
What is a California Summary Dissolution? 1816
A California Summary Dissolution is basically a simplified divorce. You must meet several requirements including being married less than five years, having no children, and having little community property. The online interview provides more details and has the option to request a Summary Dissolution if you qualify.
Will either of us be required to attend a court hearing? 39
In an uncontested California divorce, you typically will not need a court hearing. After filing your petition at the court house, you may be able to file the rest of the divorce paperwork by mail.
Which spouse files the divorce documents? 41
The spouse who files for divorce is the Petitioner. The other spouse is the Respondent.

To file for divorce in California, at least one spouse must have been a resident of California for at least six (6) months and of the county where the divorce is filed for at least three (3) months before filing for divorce.
What documents are included in the self-prepared DivorceWriter package? 1477
Your self-prepared California DivorceWriter package will include:
  • Detailed filing procedures for California
  • Petition Documents (Petition FL-100, UCCJEA FL-105, Summons FL-110)
  • Proof of Service of Summons (FL-115, FL-117, FL-120)
  • Preliminary Disclosure Forms (FL-140, FL-142, FL-150, FL-141)
  • Final Disclosure Forms (FL-140, FL-142, FL-150, FL-141)
  • Appearance, Stipulations, and Waivers Form (FL-130)
  • Marital Settlement Agreement
  • Request to Enter Default (FL-165) *optional form if entering default
  • Final Judgment (FL-170, FL-180, FL-190)
  • Customers with minor and/or legally dependent children will also receive: Child Support (FL-191, FL-192, FL-195)
Do we qualify for a summary dissolution? 1840
The DivorceWriter online interview provides qualifying customers with the ability to select the summary dissolution option. If all conditions are not met, you will receive standard dissolution documents. For a summary dissolution, ALL of the following conditions must be met:
  • Either party meets the residency requirements.
  • Both spouses can be present when the documents are filed and both can show valid picture ID.
  • Irreconcilable differences have caused the irremediable breakdown of the marriage and the marriage should be dissolved.
  • There are no children of the relationship of the parties.
  • The wife is not pregnant.
  • The marriage is not more than five years in duration at the time the petition is filed.
  • Neither party has any interest in real property wherever situated, with the exception of the lease of a residence occupied by either party.
  • There are no unpaid obligations in excess of $6,000 incurred by either or both of the parties after the date of their marriage, not including car loans.
  • The total fair market value of community property assets,excluding all encumbrances and automobiles, including any deferred compensation or retirement plan, is less than $38,000, and neither party has separate property assets,excluding all encumbrances and automobiles, in excess of $38,000.
  • The parties have executed an agreement settlement.
  • The parties waive any rights to spousal support.
  • The parties irrevocably waive their respective rights to appeal and their rights to move for a new trial.

Do any documents require notarization? 1982
The filing instructions included with your DivorceWriter package will provide additional i... more
Can I change my name in the divorce proceedings? 215
If you select the name change option in the Online Interview, the request will be automatically added to your documents at no additional cost to you.
Can I file for divorce in California? 1960
To file for divorce in California, one or both spouses must be residents of that state for at least six (6) months before filing. If one of the spouses is not a California resident, it is usually easier if the resident spouse files for divorce.

The divorce can be filed in the county where either spouse has lived for at least three (3) months before filing. If both spouses meet this requirement, the divorce can be filed in the county where either spouse lives.
What are the signature requirements for the documents I will receive? 899
The state-specific filing procedures included in the DivorceWriter package indicate which ... more
What are the grounds for filing for divorce? 212
California allows a person to file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage on the grounds of (1) irreconcilable differences or (2) incurable insanity. http://www.leginfo.ca.gov. The DivorceWriter online interview accommodates the grounds of irreconcilable differences only.
What if my spouse and I don't live in the same state? 1856
As long as one spouse meets the residency requirements for the state where the divorce wil... more
Do I have to divorce in the state where I was married? 1801
No. You can divorce in any state where you or your spouse meet the divorce residency requi... more
How long does it usually take to finalize a divorce? 216
The Judge cannot sign the Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage, which is the document that finalizes the divorce, until six months have passed from the date of service of a copy of Summons and Petition for Dissolution of Marriage or the date of appearance of the respondent, whichever occurs first. Thus, assuming all of the necessary documents have been filed and are not objected to by your spouse or the Judge, a divorce can be finalized in as little as six months and one day.
Can the wife change her name back during the divorce? 1807
Yes, the wife may restore her name to the name she had before the marriage took place. If ... more
Where do I file the divorce documents? 203
Divorces are filed at the Superior Court Clerk's office in the county where one or both spouses have lived for at least three (3) months.
Can my spouse have documents notarized in a different state? 2981
Yes. If your spouse is unable to have documents notarized by a Notary Public in the state... more
How do I know which courthouse to file my divorce in Los Angeles County? 3371
When both spouses live in Los Angeles County, the divorce can be filed in the district where either spouse lives. For more information, see Los Angeles County Superior Court Rule 2.3.
I received a document entitled "Requirements for Submitted Judgments" from Los Angeles County. What does this form mean? 2886
If you filed for divorce in L.A. County, you may have received a document entitled “Requirements for Submitted Judgments,” which is commonly given to people representing themselves (without an attorney) in divorce. This document contains several tips on divorce requirements in Los Angeles County, not all of which apply to all cases. You should not assume that receiving this document means that you have a problem with your documents. Generally speaking, if a Settlement Agreement signed by both spouses is filed with the Clerk that states what the parties have agreed to concerning child custody, visitation, spousal support, property division, and debt allocation, the requirements addressed in this letter will have been met.
What if I want to use the Simplified Financial Statement (FL-155) instead of the Income and Expense Declaration (FL-150)? 3819
While DivorceWriter is aware of the Simplified Financial Statement (FL-155), we have elected to continue to offer the Income and Expense Declaration (FL-150) instead because it is compatible with the language of other related dissolution documents such as FL-140, FL-141 and Fl-144, which directly reference use of FL-150. Additionally, as page 2 of the Simplified Financial Statement (FL-155) states, even if you are eligible to use the simplified version you may choose instead to use the Income and Expense Declaration (FL-150).
The Clerk or Judge told me I need to file Further Orders and/or other attachments to my Judgment (FL-180) in addition to the Marital Settlement Agreement. Where can I get these? 2720
In most counties, the Court only requires the Marital Settlement Agreement to be stapled to the back of the Judgment (FL-180) and filed with the Court. However, a few counties may tell the Petitioner to file Further Orders or in the alternative, to staple one or more attachments beginning with a number in the 300's to the back of the Judgment (FL-180) behind the Marital Settlement Agreement.

DivorceWriter makes a Further Orders document available to California users free of charge. To obtain this document, simply send an e-mail to DivorceWriter Customer Service at info@divorcewriter.com requesting the Further Orders document. You will receive an e-mail that contains all of the documents you have already received as part of your DivorceWriter package as well as one or more documents beginning with 888, which are all of our supplemental forms for California. Among the supplemental 888 documents, is a Further Orders document. Note: If Petitioner is asked to file Further Orders, the boxes marked "other" for 4l, 4m, and 4n on the Judgment (FL-180) generally must be checked and "Further Orders Attachment" written in the blank spaces provided.

Most Courts will accept the Further Orders document as a substitute for all of the attachments beginning with a number in the 300's. However, the DivorceWriter 888 supplemental documents may also contain one or more of the 300 attachments requested by the Court, which Petitioner may simply choose to print and file instead of the Further Orders document. If 300 attachment(s) are filed instead of Further Orders, Petitioner will check not check the "other" box for 4l, 4m, and 4m, but will instead check the correct box for the attachment being filed.
I live in San Mateo County. Why am I directed to file in the Southern Branch in Redwood City when I live closer to the Northern Branch in San Francisco? 2928
Effective January 31, 2011, the Family Law/Civil/Probate Clerk's Office located at the Northern Branch has closed. All other family law/civil/probate filings must be filed in Redwood City at the Hall of Justice.
Do we have to be separated to get a divorce? 259
The "date of separation" refers to the date when at least one of the spouses decided to end the marriage with no intent to reconcile. This date is often a matter of interpretation. It is sometimes the date the spouses stopped living together although it is not requirement that the spouses are physically living apart. Moreover, even spouses that live apart might not be considered separated if they are maintaining the marital relationship, attending marriage counseling, and/or holding themselves out as a married couple.

Consider this date carefully as it can affect property division and spousal support if you and your spouse are ever unable to agree about matters pertaining to the dissolution of your marriage at a later time in the process.
How do I determine if my income falls below the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Poverty Guidelines? 3528
Some states require a person who is applying for a filing fee waiver to have an annual inc... more
How soon after filing for divorce must the Respondent be served with a copy of the Petition and Summons? 2729
The Petition and Summons must be served on the Respondent and the Proof of Service of Summons (FL-115) signed by the Server must be filed with the Superior Court Clerk within sixty (60) calendar days from the date of filing.
There was an error on one or more of the documents that I filed with the Clerk. Now that I have fixed the error(s) on the document(s), is there anything else I have to do to it before I file an amended version of the document with the Clerk? 2934
Generally, if an error has been made in a document that was filed with the Clerk, the corr... more
My documents ask for the "Cause Number" instead of a "Case Number." Is this correct? 3231
Yes. In a number of U.S. states, the Courts use the term "Cause Number" instead of "Case ... more
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What is the difference between child support and spousal support? 338
Spousal support is paid to one spouse by the other for the support and care of the receivi... more
Will we be able to customize our documents to fit our specific custody and visitation arrangement? 248
DivorceWriter accommodates parents who want to share joint legal custody while designating one parent to have primary physical custody of the children.

Choose to customize as little or as much as you need.
  • Create a detailed schedule for vacations, holidays, and special occasions, including beginning and end times, or choose to keep your regular schedule during those times.
  • List your parenting schedule priorities to resolve potential conflicts before they arise.
  • Designate the amount of time each parent will spend with the child(ren).
We have agreed that one spouse will pay spousal support to the other. What are some options? 1585
Two common ways for one spouse to receive spousal support payments from the other are (1) ... more
How is spousal support/alimony calculated? 134
In uncontested divorces, spouses reach their own agreement regarding the amount of spousal support/alimony, if any, that one spouse will receive from the other.

Additional information on how courts calculate spousal support/alimony in cases where spouses have not reached an agreement can be found at: http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/selfhelp

Can we specify how we will claim our child(ren) for income tax purposes? 2086
The DivorceWriter online interview allows you to designate which spouse will claim your mi... more
When can a child support order be modified in California? 1920
A child support order can be modified in California if there has been:
  • a significant increase or decrease in either parent's earnings;
  • a change in custody or the amount of time the child spends with each parent; or
  • a change in any other factor that would affect the child support guideline.
We have received our documents, but have decided that we do not want any parenting time schedule. Is this possible? 2239
The DivorceWriter online interview, which you completed previously, was designed to accomm... more
What if my spouse and I have agreed to a child support amount that is different from the standard amount? 252
DivorceWriter shows the child support calculation under the guidelines using the parents' income. Then, the customer chooses whether to use the guideline calculation or to deviate from that calculation by entering a different child support amount as well a reason for using a different amount. Information on using a child support amount that is different from the standard amount set by the Child Support Guidelines is available at: http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov.

We have children. Can I still use DivorceWriter? 1802
Yes, you can use DivorceWriter to create your divorce forms even if you have children. Th... more
How is child support calculated? 213
Based on the information provided by the customer when completing this online interview, a computer generated Child Support Worksheet is automatically created and sent to the customer as part of the DivorceWriter package.

Additional information on the calculation of child support can be found at: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov.
What are the different types of custody? 509
Click here to review how the California Code defines the various custody types: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov.
What if we already have an existing child support order? 247
DivorceWriter provides the option to enter information regarding an existing child support order including the amount of support ordered and other identifying case information. Generally, you must also attach a copy of already existing child support document(s) to your Marital Settlement Agreement when you file it.
Do I have to pay income tax on spousal support payments that I receive? 1984
For federal income tax purposes, spousal support is commonly considered taxable income for... more
What if I have additional questions about child support? 133
Additional information on child support can be found at: http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov.
What if my spouse and I have agreed that spouse will be paid directly rather than with a wage garnishment? 3803
In every case involving child support in California, the court will issue a Withholding Order (FL-195). D.4 of the Settlement Agreement contains language indicating that a mandatory Wage Assignment Order (income withholding) will be issued. This method is preferred by courts and many spouses because it creates a clear, undisputable record of child support payments. However, in cases where the Local Child Support Agency (LCSA) is not involved in the case and both spouses have agreed to include language in the Settlement Agreement stating that the obligor (spouse paying support) will make payments directly to the obligee (spouse receiving support), the court may ask the LCSA to stay, or put a hold on, the Withholding Order (FL-195) until a spouse requests that it be activated or until an arrearage accrues.

If you would like to make changes to your document, please note that it may be downloaded in Microsoft Word and self-customized as needed. If you have additional questions concerning child support or wage withholding, please contact an attorney.
I received a notice that the Judge wants me to file a child support calculation sheet. Where can I get one? 3772
Generally, the Court will not expect to see written child support calculations. However, if you have been notified that your Judge wants you to file a document with child support calculations, you may create that document here.
I was told that my documents are missing FC 2105 language and/or Declaration Regarding Service of Preliminary Disclosure (FL-141). What does this mean? 3192
Generally, if you are told that you are missing FC Sec. 2105 language, it means that you and/or your spouse did not follow the instructions concerning filing of the Declaration Regarding Service of Preliminary Disclosure and Income and Expenses Statement (form FL-141). A Form FL-141 is included for each spouse, and each spouse must sign and file this form. Please review the instructions provided in your DivorceWriter California Divorce Filing Procedures (Step 2, Step 3, and Additional Information for Step 3) for more information.
What if my children live in another state and we already have a court order or informal arrangement concerning child support and child custody? 3651
If you want to have the court issue an order as part of the divorce concerning child suppo... more
Can I change custody from joint to sole on my California documents? 3781
Yes. On the Petition (FL-100), 7a and 7b ask about legal and physical custody. On the Marital Settlement Agreement, the portion of section C that begins with the sentence "child custody and visitation rights of each party are set forth as follows," contains custody, visitation and parenting time options, which can be self-customized. To make changes to your custody and/or visitation options on the applicable documents, your documents may be downloaded in Microsoft Word and self-customized as needed.
What is the home state of the children under UCCJEA? 3543
While you are entitled to file for divorce in any state where the residency requirements a... more
I have been advised that FC Sec. 5616 is missing from my documents. What do I do? 3191
All California Marital Settlement Agreements in cases involving children now include the following FC 5616 language in the child support section: In the event that there is a contract between a party receiving support and a private child support collector, the party ordered to pay support must pay the fee charged by the private child support collector. This fee must not exceed 33 1/3 percent of the total amount of past due support nor may it exceed 50 percent of any fee charged by the private child support collector. The money judgment created by this provision is in favor of the private child support collector and the party receiving support, jointly.
Where do I obtain a Case Identifier for the Income Withholding for Support?  3187
The Court Clerk in your county should be able to provide you with the Case Identifier and the Order Identifier for the Income Withholding for Support . If the Court Clerk will not provide you with this information, contact the California State Disbursement Unit (SDU) for this information. In California, the SDU is responsible for the collection and disbursement of all employer child support wage withholding payments. If you need assistance, you may contact the SDU at (866) 901-3212. In the alternative, you may wish to contact your Local Child Support Agency (LCSA) for assistance. To locate your LCSA, click here.
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Can I receive a portion of my spouse's retirement plan even though his/her retirement is several years away? 46
The most common way for one spouse to secure the right to a portion of the other spouse's ... more
Do we have to list the debts we have agreed to divide? 1989
About 30% of DivorceWriter customers list debts. The debts listed will appear on the sett... more
We want to transfer real estate into only one spouse's name. Do we need a Quit Claim Deed? 311
Generally, if you want to transfer jointly held real estate into the name of only one spou... more
Can we customize our documents to fit our plans for our real estate? 597
The DivorceWriter online interview allows customers to list not only the street address, c... more
Can we divide/list as many items of personal property as we want? 1764
Choose to list all, some, or no property. The customer decides which property, if any, to ... more
What is the "legal description" of a piece of real estate? 2885
The legal description, also referred to as the property description, is usually a one to two paragraph description of land that includes metes and bounds, lot number and/or block number in order to describe the exact legal boundaries of a piece of real estate. The legal description is not the same as the physical address of the property.

The legal description can be found on the deed to the property. The county clerk or recorder in the county where the property is located will be able to provide a copy of the legal description if you do not have a copy of the deed. In addition, often the property tax statement will list the property description as well as the accessor parcel number, or APN.
When can I record the quit claim deed my spouse signed? 3811
One spouse may choose to sign a quit claim deed transferring his or her interest in the ma... more
Why do my DivorceWriter documents say that we do not have life insurance or other property that we actually do have? 2726
Some states require divorcing spouses to provide information on several different types of... more
My spouse and I listed no property or debts in the online interview. Why is 13(b) checked on FL-800 instead of 13(a)? 3197
All California DivorceWriter document packages come with a Marital Settlement Agreement that sets forth several important terms of the divorce. Because a Marital Settlement Agreement is filed, 13(b) is marked on FL-800, indicating that the parties have signed an agreement listing and dividing all our community assets and liabilities. However, if the parties do not have any community assets or liabilities, that portion of the Marital Settlement Agreement will be blank.
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I received my DivorceWriter package today, but I'm not sure I want to file for divorce right away. How how long are these papers good for? 2229
Unsigned divorce documents do not have an expiration date per se. Applicable time periods... more
I can't find my spouse. Can I still use DivorceWriter? 2452
DivorceWriter is designed for couples who have reached an agreement on all issues and who ... more
I am not sure my marriage was legal. Do I even need a divorce? 1970
DivorceWriter is for people who want to end their marriages. If you have any questions reg... more
What if one spouse is living in a foreign country? 733
If your spouse is able to receive documents in the mail and is willing to sign and return ... more
What if I have an out of state driver's license or no license at all? 995
If the spouse who files for divorce does not have a valid in-state driver's license, it ma... more
My spouse is currently incarcerated. Can we still use DivorceWriter? 2234
DivorceWriter documents must be signed by both husband and wife. As long as your spouse is... more
What if one spouse is in the military? 803
If both parties are willing to sign the papers, ending your marriage when a spouse is in t... more
How do we get documents notarized in a foreign country? 2449
The meaning of the term "notary" varies widely from country to country. To find a Notary ... more
Can I use divorce forms even though they contain gender-specific terms? 3230
One thing that has lagged behind following the legalization of same-sex marriage nationwid... more
Can same-sex couples divorce in the state where they were married if they can't get a divorce in the state where they live? 3813
If you are a same-sex couple living in a state where same-sex marriage is legal, you can d... more
My spouse is currently incarcerated. What address do I use? 2745
You may use the address at the facility where your spouse is currently incarcerated. Divo... more
How do I end a civil union or domestic partnership? 3446
When recognized in the state, civil unions and/or domestic partnerships can be entered int... more
Which states allow same-sex divorce? 3530
On June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling legalizing same-sex marriage nati... more
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Where can I find additional help? 2410
Additional help is available. Click here to find legal help from the American Bar Associat... more
Where can I find the full-text version of the California Family Code online? 740
Click here to view the California Code in its entirety. Division 6, part 3 is the beginning of the dissolution of marriage section. Division 7 involves division of property. Divisions 8 covers custody of children. Division 9 covers spousal support and child support.
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