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James D. Madden & Aruna P. Rodrigo, Family Law Attorneys

Your Guide to the California Divorce Process 06-14-2016

Your Guide to the California Divorce Process

Divorce is a complicated process to go through, but that doesn’t mean you need to go in confused. We’ve broken down the basic steps involved in a California divorce in order to give you a clearer understanding of what you need to prepare for. All of the forms included in this list can be found at your local clerk’s office, or online on the California Judicial Branch website.

1. Beginning the Process: Whoever initiates the process needs to file a Petition – Marriage/Domestic Partnership (form FL-100) and a Summons (form FL110) with the court clerk. If there are children involved, you will also need to file a Declaration Under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (form FL-115). Once the court clerk stamps the forms, they will return copies to you, which you will need to continue with the next step.

2. Serving the Forms: You need to have a representative who is at least 18 years old serve all of the copied forms, as well as a blank Response – Marriage/Domestic Partnership (form FL-120) to your partner or spouse. You will also need to file a Proof of Service of Summons (form FL-115) with the court to explain how and when your partner or spouse was served. They then have up to 30 days to file their Response – Marriage/Domestic Partnership form.

3. Disclosure of Financial Information: You must fill out and serve a Declaration of Disclosure (form FL-140), an Income and Expense Declaration (form FL-150), a Schedule of Assets and Debts (form FL-142) or Property Declaration (form FL-160), and any of your filed tax returns from the past two years within 60 days of filing for divorce. These documents are only to be sent to your partner or spouse, not to the court. If your partner or spouse files a Response – Marriage/Domestic Partnership form, they must complete and serve the same forms to you within 60 days of filing it. Both parties must then file a Declaration Regarding Service (form FL-141) with the court once all forms are served. If you have a written agreement with your partner or spouse, you may extend the 60 day timeframe.

4. Finishing the Divorce or Legal Separation Case: There are four ways your case may proceed, depending on the response from your partner or spouse.

  • Your partner or spouse does not file a Response and there is no written agreement: You must wait the full 30 days until Step 2 is complete, then complete a proposed Judgement (form FL-180), as well as the other necessary forms.
  • Your partner or spouse does not file a Response and there is a written agreement: You must attach the signed and notarized agreement to your proposed Judgement, as well as the other necessary forms.
  • Your partner files a Response and there is no written agreement: You and your partner or spouse must go to trial and have a judge make a ruling.
  • Your partner files a Response and there is a written agreement: Either you or your partner must file an Appearance, Stipulations, and Waivers (form FL-130), the proposed Judgement, the written agreement, as well as the other necessary forms.

If, during the divorce or separation process you need court orders in order to file for spousal or partner support, parenting/visitation time, custody, child support, restraining orders, or any other issues, you need to file a Request for Order (form FL-300) to request a temporary order. It will take at least six months and a day to complete the entire divorce process, but there is no waiting period for a legal separation. No matter what, you and your partner or spouse are not legally separated or divorced until the court enters a Judgement in your case.

The divorce process can be a long and complicated one, but you don’t need to face it alone. At James D. Madden, Attorney at Law, our firm has the experience and knowledge necessary to tackle even the most complicated of divorce cases. Call us today at (909) 992-0188 to set up an appointment, or fill out our online form for a free case evaluation.

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