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  • Writer's pictureDimitry Erudaitius

How to File a Divorce in California 101

Updated: Nov 28, 2023

To file for divorce in California, you must follow these steps:

  1. Meet residency requirements: At least one spouse must have been a resident of California for at least six months, and a resident of the county where you plan to file for divorce for at least three months.

  2. Prepare and file the divorce petition: The divorce petition is a legal document that outlines the grounds for the divorce (irreconcilable differences) and asks the court to end the marriage. You can obtain the necessary forms from the California Courts website or from the courthouse in your county.

  3. Serve the petition on your spouse: You must give your spouse a copy of the divorce petition and a summons, which notifies them of the divorce and explains their legal rights and responsibilities. This must be done through personal service, which means having a third party deliver the papers to your spouse (or in some cases alternative forms of service) with proof of delivery.

  4. File proof of service: After you serve the divorce petition on your spouse, you must file proof of service with the court to show that your spouse received the papers.

  5. Respond to the petition (if applicable): If your spouse chooses to respond to the divorce petition, they must do so within 30 days of being served. They can either agree or disagree with the terms of the divorce.

  6. Negotiate a settlement (if applicable): If you and your spouse can reach an agreement on the terms of the divorce, you can submit a written agreement to the court for approval.

  7. Attend a court hearing (if applicable): If you and your spouse cannot reach an agreement, you may need to attend a court hearing to have a judge make decisions about issues such as child custody, support, and property division.

  8. Finalize the divorce: Once the court approves the divorce settlement (if applicable) and all issues have been resolved, the court will issue a final judgment ending the marriage.

It is recommended that you consult with a qualified divorce attorney in California to ensure that you follow all of the necessary steps and requirements for filing for divorce in your specific situation. Contact us to see how we can help.

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THE PAPERWORK -To file for divorce in California, you will need to complete the following paperwork:

  1. Petition (Form FL-100): This form initiates the divorce process and includes basic information about you, your spouse, and your marriage.

  2. Summons (Form FL-110): This form notifies your spouse that you have filed for divorce and includes information about their rights and obligations during the divorce process.

  3. Declaration Under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (Form FL-105/GC-120): This form is required if you have children and outlines their current living arrangements and custody arrangements.

  4. Property Declaration (Form FL-160 or FL- 142): This form lists all of the property you and your spouse own together and separately, including real estate, bank accounts, investments, and personal property.

  5. Financial Disclosure Form (Form FL-150): This form provides detailed information about your income, expenses, debts, and assets.

  6. Proof of Service (Form FL-115): This form verifies that your spouse received a copy of the Petition and Summons.

In addition to these forms, you may also need to file additional paperwork depending on your specific circumstances, such as a Request for Order (Form FL-300) if you need the court to make temporary orders regarding child custody, support, or property.

It is important to note that filing for divorce can be a complex and emotional process. It is recommended that you seek the assistance of a qualified family law attorney to help you with the paperwork and guide you through the process.

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