How to File for Divorce in California

The legal process behind filing for divorce is complicated and lengthy. It can be difficult to know where to start, which is why we’ve taken the time to write out all the details on how to file in California. Keep reading to learn more.

File Your Petition

No matter the reason behind your dissolution, all divorces begin the same way – paperwork. You must file a Petition FL-100 and a Summons FL-100. The petition acts as your formal request to the court to legally divorce your partner, while the summons is a formal notification to your spouse that you are filing a divorce. If you have children, you may have to file additional paperwork. Once these documents are filed, the court will issue you an official case number for use on future documents and will schedule your court date.

Serve Your Spouse

After filing the proper paperwork, you will need to notify your spouse of your intent to divorce. A friend or process-server will need to give, or “serve,” your spouse the notice. After they are served, the California courts require proof that the documents were received by your spouse. This is accomplished with a Proof of Service FL-115 document, or a Notice and Acknowledgement of Receipt. This begins the “time clock” on your divorce, and establishes the earliest marital termination date – 6 months and 1 day after the service.

Negotiate a Marital Settlement Agreement

Once your court date is scheduled, you should begin marital settlement agreement negotiations, more commonly known as a divorce agreement. This can occur a number of ways.

If you and your spouse are on speaking terms, you may look at mediation as an option. A mediator will work to negotiate your marital settlement agreement and find compromises that you and your spouse can agree to. This process does not require the use of an attorney, and therefore can save you quite a bit of money in legal fees.

If you and your spouse have a more heated relationship, or you struggle to converse effectively with them, it may be in your best interest to seek legal representation to help you through your negotiations. Your lawyer can advocate for you and help you achieve a beneficial outcome.

If your spouse cannot amicably reach an agreement on the terms of your dissolution, you will need to prepare for litigation. Doing so will put your marital settlement in the hands of a judge, which could help or hurt you depending on the specifics of your case. Because of the lengthiness of litigation, this process can be expensive. Don’t wait to contact a divorce attorney for assistance.

Attend Your Divorce Court Hearing

Negotiating as much as possible prior to your court date (even if you don’t agree on everything) is beneficial, as it puts fewer things in the hands of the judge. You and your attorney can make a case for any remaining factors of the divorce, and the judge will make the final decision.

If you and your spouse can reach a final marital settlement agreement before your hearing, it is considered an uncontested divorce. The judge will review the agreement, determine its legality, and give final approval. You may or may not need to appear in court for this process to take place.

In a contested divorce, little to no negotiations are made prior to the court hearing. You and your divorce lawyer must make a case for each and every asset, debt, and property involved in your dissolution, and hope that the judge favors your reasoning. The litigation process can take days or sometimes weeks, and may or may not result in a beneficial outcome.

Final Judgment Is Processed

Depending on the court, the final judgment will be processed over the ne next 4 – 12 weeks. Once the divorce has been legally processed, the county clerk will mail you an official copy of your Judgement. After the termination date listed on the judgment has passed, you are legally unmarried and may remarry.

Save Yourself Time & Stress. Contact One of Our Mediators: (415) 969-9936.

Few things are as stressful as negotiating a marital settlement with your soon-to-be ex. That’s where Liaise Divorce Solutions comes in. Our divorce mediators in California take the time to develop a beneficial situation for you and your spouse and help you avoid having to go before a judge. With our mediators, you can choose to use legal representation, and schedule your negotiations around your schedule. This not only saves you time and stress but can save you from the large financial burden of a contested divorce.

Let our San Francisco mediators help you. Contact Liaise Divorce Solutions today to schedule a free consultation: (415) 969-9936.