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Frequently Asked Questions

Find the answers to commonly asked questions. Feel free to contact us if you have further questions.

What is mediation?


If you and your spouse have reached an agreement or think you can come to an agreement about some or all of the issues in your case, consider using mediation.


Mediation is voluntary. A neutral person (called a mediator) helps the parties come to an agreement on the issues in your case.


  • You and your spouse control the pace of the process
  • Your case is confidential
  • Your agreement is more likely to reflect a compromise
  • Your agreement can address your specific needs and concerns
  • There is little court involvement
  • People are more likely to follow the terms of a mediated agreement than a court-imposed order.
  • To mediate about custody and visitation issues, you can work with a mediator from the Court’s Custody Mediation office once you have been given a court date.


You may also hire a private mediator. There is a fee to do private mediation.

I am in both a same-sex marriage and a registered domestic partnership with my spouse. Do we have to end both in separate court cases?


No. You can now file to end your same-sex marriage and domestic partnership with the same paperwork, same case. Just make sure you check the boxes that apply to indicate you are ending both, the marriage and the domestic partnership.

If we have joint physical custody, do our children have to spend exactly half the time with each of the parents?


No. If there is joint physical custody, usually the children spend a little more time with 1 parent than the other because it is too hard to split the time exactly in half. When 1 parent has the child more than half of the time, then that parent is sometimes called the “primary custodial parent.

What if my spouse or domestic partner does not want to give me a divorce?


In California, it is not necessary for both spouses or domestic partners to agree to the divorce. Either spouse or domestic partner can decide to end their marriage/partnership. It is not necessary for the other spouse to agree or “give you” a divorce.


The spouse or domestic partner who does not want to get a divorce cannot stop the process by refusing to participate in the case. He or she does not have to sign anything to agree to the divorce. If your spouse or domestic partner does not participate in the divorce case, you will still be able to get a “default” judgment and the divorce will go through.

Which county should I file for divorce in, since I have moved?


You must live in the county for 3 months and the state for 6 months before you can file for a divorce here.

If you do not meet the residency requirements in your county, you can file for legal separation, then file an amended petition for divorce in the county in which you live once their residency requirements are met.

What is a “no fault” divorce?


“No fault” divorce is any divorce where the spouse or domestic partner that is asking for the divorce does not have to prove that the other spouse or domestic partner did something wrong. California is a “no fault” divorce state, which means that to get divorced in California you NEVER have to prove that the other person did something wrong. To get a no fault divorce, 1 spouse or domestic partner has to state that the couple cannot get along. Legally, this is called “irreconcilable differences.

What happens if I want to travel out of state or the country with my children but I cannot find the other parent to get permission?


Usually, you need the other parent’s permission to travel out of state with your children, especially if you want to leave the country or if, because of your traveling with your children, the other parent will miss his or her court-ordered visitation. If you cannot find the other parent, you will need to go to court and ask the judge for permission to let you leave without the other parent’s permission. You will have to look for the other parent and tell the judge everything you tried to find him or her.

You should also closely look at your existing custody and visitation court order and make sure that there are no restrictions on you leaving the state or your country with the children. If there are limits on whether you can take your children outside of your country or state, you usually need a court order giving you special permission to travel.

If the judge gives you an order letting you travel, make sure you get it in writing. Also make sure the order has everything you need, including the dates of travel and any other information so that you can travel with your children safely. Carry a copy of the order on you everywhere you go when you travel. You may need to show it to the border patrol, airport staff, or any official that asks to see it.

How do I get an Order for Child Support?


To get an order for child support, you must first file a case with the Court. If you do not have an existing case, you need to file one.


  • If you ARE MARRIED to the other parent, you can file an action for divorce or legal separation. If you do not want to file for divorce or legal separation, you can file a Petition for Custody and Support of Minor Children and Summons.
  • If you are NOT MARRIED to the other parent, you must file a parentage action. This means you are asking the Court to name the other parent. You may request child support, custody, and visitation orders at the same time.
Do I still need to pay child support if I have 50/50 custody?

Read More

If you make more money than the other parent, you may still need to pay some child support.

What if the parents live in different states?


If you and the other parent live in different states and you are trying to resolve custody issues, you should work with lawyers who have experience with these types of cases.

All states of the United States and the District of Columbia have adopted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA). This law sets standards for when a court may make a custody decision and when a court must accept an existing decision from another state.

In general, a state may make a custody decision about a child if 1 of the following is true:

  • The state is the child’s “home” state. This means the child has lived in the state for the last 6 months, or was living in the state but is not there because a parent took the child or kept him or her out of the state.
  • The child has significant connections with people in the state, such as teachers, doctors, and grandparents. It can be proven that the child’s care, protection, training, and personal relationships are based there.
  • The child is in the state and either has been abandoned or is in danger of being abused or neglected if sent back to the other state.
  • No other state can meet 1 of the 3 tests listed above, or a state can meet at least 1 of the tests but has declined to make a custody decision.

A custody decision can only be made in 1 state. Once the first state makes a custody decision, another state cannot make another “initial” decision or modify the existing order.

Having the same law in all states helps achieve consistency in the treatment of custody decisions. It also helps solve many of the problems created by kidnapping or disagreements over custody between parents living in different states.

How long do I have to pay child support?


You will pay until the child is 18 years old, if he or she graduates from high school. If your 18-year-old child is still a full time high school student and still lives with the other parent, you must pay child support until your child graduates.

Will the Court consider that I have other children to support?


The Court can give you credit for other child support orders and for other children in your home that you support. The Court usually does not give credit for stepchildren, or grandchildren.

Additional Resources


Helpful legal documents, files and forms that you can download.


Legal terminology and definitions that you may find helpful.


Other websites with additional resources and information for your use.