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6 Steps to File for Divorce in California

Posted by Ahluwalia Law Professional Corporation | Aug 20, 2019 | 0 Comments

Mike and Lynne have decided to file for divorce after five years of marriage. He discovered that she was seeing someone else and, although hurt and angry, he agreed to work with Lynne to end the marriage with as little stress and contention as possible.

Below is an overview of the steps that Mike took to file for divorce in California. He undertook all of them with help from an experienced divorce attorney, who answered his questions, reviewed paperwork for accuracy, and ensured that the settlement agreement was legally compliant and in his best interests. (It is important to note that if you want to file for divorce in California, you must have lived in the state for at least six months and in the county where you intend to file for at least three months.)

Step 1

Mike started the process by completing a divorce petition, a summons, and property declaration. He and Lynne have two children under the age of 18, so he also filled out a Declaration Under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, which confirms that he is a party to a proceeding regarding the custody of a child. 

He and Lynne reached their own agreement about custody and visitation: if he hadn't, he could have filled out the Child Custody and Visitation Application so that the court could issue an appropriate order. All paperwork was completed with help from his attorney.

Step 2

Mike submitted his paperwork (originals and two copies) to the court clerk and paid the filing fee. Although he didn't need any temporary orders issued, petitioners who need interim orders for child support, spousal maintenance, protection from domestic violence, and other situations can apply for them at this stage.

Step 3

Mike had Lynne served with copies of the divorce paperwork. She then had 30 days to file her response. His attorney arranged for her to be personally served, which is the recommended option, although California law also allows service by mail (along with a Notice and Acknowledgment of Receipt). Service by mail is generally advisable when the recipient spouse is being cooperative and agrees to accept service.

Although Mike and Lynne don't receive government assistance for their children, divorcing California parents who do must also serve a copy of the divorce paperwork on the child support agency office in the county that pays the benefits. This service can be done by mail.

After Lynne was served, the process server for Mike's attorney filled out a proof of service, which was then filed with the court. 

Step 4

Although he could have done so at the same time he filed the petition, Mike has 60 days after filing to provide financial disclosures. This paperwork consists of information about his income, property, expenses, and debts. After making copies of important documents like bank statements, W-2 forms, tax returns, mortgage documentation, and credit card bills, he completed the forms. Then he and Lynne served copies of all financial disclosure forms on each other. This shared information made it possible for he and Lynne to divide their assets and debts fairly and make decisions about child support.

Step 5

Typically, after divorcing spouses have exchanged their preliminary declarations of disclosure, settlement negotiations on the financial matters begin. Mike and Lynne also confirmed their agreement regarding child custody and visitation, and neither side requested spousal support, so their settlement agreement was drafted and signed fairly quickly. With other couples, the process can take longer and unresolved matters may have to be mediated or litigated.

Step 6

In California, there is a waiting period of six months between the time the divorce petition has been filed and the Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage is issued. Mike and Lynne were each provided with a certified copy of the judgment, leaving them free to move on and work together as co-parents.

Contact a Bay Area Divorce Attorney

If you intend to divorce in California, an experienced Bay Area divorce attorney can provide invaluable guidance. While some aspects of the divorce process are straightforward, others are difficult and complicated. At Ahluwalia Law P.C., we will strategize and collaborate with you to ensure that you leave your marriage with everything you need for the next chapter in your life. For more information or to get started, contact us.

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