A marriage may only be dissolved by a court with jurisdiction. In order for a court to have jurisdiction, at least one spouse must be a resident of California for at least six months and be a resident of the county where the proceeding is filed for at least three months before filing the petition. This requirement is sometimes confused with the six month “cooling off” period, which requires that the marital status generally cannot be changed until six months after the court obtains jurisdiction. Family Code § 2339(a).
The three month/six month rule is important to note because a spouse moving to California from another state wishing to file for dissolution proceedings in Californiamay have to travel to the other spouses jurisdiction (or jurisdiction of original marriage,) if they do not file and serve the petition first. This requirement does not apply to legal separations, nullity proceedings, or dissolution of domestic partnerships.