Can a legal separation judgement be changed to a divorce without starting the entire process over?

I have a legal separation finalized judgement and would like to change it to a divorce. All items have been agreed on and a agreement has been written and notarized. It will be an uncontested divorce. I’ve been given 2 different paths to go: 1 – to file a Petition for Dissolution of marriage and that’s it; or 2 –  to start the entire process over and refile everything. Which is correct? Is there another way to go?

Asked on November 1, 2011 under Family Law, California


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

What I believe that you are alluding to here is known as a "conversion" divorce in many states. New York has such a proceeding.  California is  also one of those states that allows you to take a legal separation that has been properly filed and convert it to a dissolution proceeding (in other words a divorce).  Generally speaking, that is the easiest route to go.  Why would you start the entire process over?  If you have met the 6 month residency requirement for California and all the papers are in order you can file now.  I would speak with another attorney just to be sure that everything is in order.  Good luck to you.

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