What's the first step in protecting myself if my spouse wants a divorce?
Question Details: She wants dissolve the relationship, what do I do?
Even though you are in California and I am a Maryland divorce lawyer, I can nevertheless tell you that the first step you should take involves three things - 1. schedule a consultation with a divorce lawyer, 2. make a list of all your property (kitchen utensils to linens to clothes to cars to real estate, pensions, stocks, bonds, etc.) and all of your spouse's property, and 3. if there are joint bank accounts, take out your fair share immediately before your wife does.
You should schedule a consultation because, if it is going to be a constested matter, then you need a lawyer. You should make the property list now because, oftentimes in contested cases, one party may dispose of certain property in bad faith. You should take pictures of all the property so you have evidence of the make and models, that way you do not get into a word against word issue in court (this should be easy given the smart phones nowadays).
As to the bank accounts, you do not want to risk either having the court rule against your opinion of your fair share, or risk having the wife take your money and spend it. Be reasonable about this last step, and speak with a lawyer before deciding whether to actually spend any of it in order to make sure you have a right to do so.