Previously when filing for divorce in Santa Clara County the only residency requirements that were relevant to a divorce were those involving jurisdiction. A party must have been a resident of California for six months and a resident of Santa Clara County for three months before filing a petition for divorce. If neither spouse had met that requirement the only option was to file for a legal separation which could then be amended to a divorce after the residency requirements were met. However effective November 1, 2007, there is a new jurisdictional issue in Santa Clara County Family Law Division of the Superior Court which now requires that upon filing for divorce, or initiating a paternity action, that a Declaration of Residence form be completed.
The Declaration of Residence form divides Santa Clara County into three separate locations and the Petitioner must state in which location they live. Central County covers San Jose, Milpitas, Los Gatos, and Campbell. North County covers Sunnyvale, Saratoga, Cupertino, Los Altos, Palo Alto, Alviso, Santa Clara, and Mountain View. South County covers Morgan Hill, Gilroy, San Martin, and Coyote. This form is now required because currently there is only one Family Law courthouse which is located in San Jose, but they will be opening additional branches in Sunnyvale and San Martin. Eventually this form will be used to send Central County cases to the current division in San Jose; the North County cases will be heard in Sunnyvale; and the South County cases will be heard in San Martin.
One of the questions that people often ask is whether or not there is a benefit to file for a divorce first and with this new system the answer is definitely yes. If you have separated from your spouse and live in different areas of the county you may not want the inconvenience of travelling from Gilroy to Sunnyvale for court hearings. Therefore it would be beneficial to file for divorce first to have a location closer to home. Our team of San Jose divorce attorneys are very experienced in addressing all of the issues that come up during a divorce, such as community property division, spousal and child support, and custody and visitation. We also have offices in Fremont and Monterey for any issues that arise during a divorce in Alameda County or Monterey County.