Dissolution of Marriage
In California a divorce is called a dissolution of marriage. The purpose of filing a dissolution of marriage is to obtain orders dividing your property, custody orders for your children, orders for child and spousal support, and to terminate your marriage. California is a no fault state so either party can obtain a dissolution of marriage and the other spouse cannot object.
To begin the process, a complaint for Dissolution of Marriage needs to be filed and served. Once filed it is served. Your spouse then has thirty days to respond. Your divorce can be finalized six months from service of the Petition. That is the earliest it can be finalized, but it likely will take longer unless you can resolve in an amicable fashion.
The Petition is served concurrently with a summons. That summons contains Automatic Restraining Orders which are effective upon service. These Restraining Orders preclude either party from removing children from the state and from dissipating property and canceling insurance as well as changing beneficiaries.