How to File for Divorce in California
California Divorce Process in California
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Preparing the Divorce Papers in California

In order to divorce in California, with or without a lawyer, the petitioner, who is the spouse seeking divorce, starts the action with three standard forms – the summons, petition and if there are minor children, the Declaration Under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act.

All California courts accept standard divorce forms, but some jurisdictions require additional paperwork, so it is a good idea to check with the clerk of courts in the county where the divorce will happen.
Filing the Documents at Court in California:

The divorce begins when the petitioner files the paperwork with the clerk of courts in the county of residence. Normally, the petitioner pays a filing fee that varies by jurisdiction. The petitioner must pay the fee unless he or she cannot afford it and files the Request to Waive Court Fees (Form FW-001), which the court reviews. If the court agrees that the fee should be waived, the petitioner does not have to pay to file documents.

The clerk stamps the divorce papers with the time and date of the filing and returns copies for the petitioner to deliver to the respondent, who should be given copies as soon as possible.
Serving the Divorce Documents in California:

Service of process, as it is called, is the proper delivery of the divorce papers to the respondent. Service of process ensures that the respondent receives proper notice about the pending action against him or her and an opportunity to “appear,” or defend himself or herself. Service of process prevents an “ambush” in the courtroom. In uncontested actions where the spouses divorce pro se (meaning, on one’s own behalf, or without lawyers), the petitioner should arrange service at the respondent’s home. In a contested action, where the other spouse has a lawyer, the lawyer receives the divorce papers, not the spouse.
Financial Disclosure Documents in California.

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After the case develops, the petitioner provides information about his or her finances to the court and the respondent. To do so, he or she completes the Declaration of Disclosure (Family Law Form FL-140) and either the Income and Expense Declaration (Family Law Form FL-150) or the Financial Statement (Simplified Family Law Form FL-155). In addition, he or she completes the Schedule of Assets and Debts (Family Law Form FL-142) and the Declaration Regarding Service of Declaration of Disclosure (Family Law Form FL-141), which is proof of service.

These documents detail each spouse’s financial picture, from employment to assets to liabilities and monthly expenses. Pay stubs and tax returns, may be attached. This information helps everyone to understand more about, for example, how much child support should be paid, or whether one spouse should receive alimony. The information should be clear and candid. These forms must be served on the spouse, and proof of service filed with the court.
Contested Divorce Vs Uncontested Divorce in California:

A divorce can be either uncontested, which is when the spouses both agree to all the terms and conditions of the dissolution, or contested, which is when they do not. A contested divorce may mean the parties go to court, or at least start there.

Finalizing your California Divorce in California:

In a California divorce, a minimum of six months transpire from the time the papers are filed until the divorce is finalized. That excludes any issues with property, children, or finances. It is not uncommon for a contested divorce to drag out much longer than six months.

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