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.