Not sure where to begin? You’re not alone. We aren’t going to lie:

Divorce in California is complicated.

We will get you through it. Your first step is to review our Overview of the divorce process below.
Then take a breath, get some fresh air and come back later. We’ll be here.

Step 1: The Petition & Response

Every Divorce (or Domestic Partnership Dissolution) starts with the Petition. If you file first, you’re the Petitioner. Your spouse is the Respondent. There is no legal advantage to being the Petitioner vs. the Respondent.

If this is where you’re at, dig into Step 1.

Step 2: Temporary Orders

Divorces take at least 6 months and 1 day after the Petition is served (that’s just the way it is).

If you and your spouse can’t agree, you might want to ask for the court’s help in deciding questions of child support, child custody and visitation, spousal support, attorney fees, or exclusive use of home or financial accounts, payments of debts, other temporary property orders.

Temporary orders are how you make that happen. Not everyone will need one of these (and some people will need quite a few), but, if you do, check out Step 2.

We also should note: you might need these at any point in the divorce process. So it’s possible you’ll be halfway through Step 3 and need to come back to Step 2 again. That’s ok. Stay the course.

Step 3: Financial Disclosures

You are required to exchange court forms that disclose complete information about your income (from all sources), expenses, property and debts.

Even if you already have a full agreement with your spouse (good for you!), you still must exchange these documents.

There are a lot of details, but we have tools designed to support you in making sure this is done completely and correctly. Explore Step 3.

Step 4: Agreement & Judgment

Your divorce will not be over until you and your spouse come to a written agreement and a judge signs off on it. There are multiple ways you might accomplish this. If you are unable to come to a full agreement on all issues in your divorce, you and your spouse can try mediation, employ a private judge or proceed to “public” court for a “contested” hearing on child custody, child support, spousal support, property, debt and/or attorney fees and costs. After the judge issues an order(s), you will need to prepare a Judgment.

Learn more in Step 4.

You have three basic choices for how to manage your divorce:

Self Representation

Estimated Cost: Under $5,000

If you’re confident, capable and inclined to save some money, self representation (with our guidance) is the way to go. Continue exploring our Divorce Navigator to get a clear breakdown of the divorce process and all the ways we can help.

Check out our membership options to choose the level of assistance. And, if you haven’t yet, sign up for an account and get your free 15-minute strategy call with one of our divorce attorneys.


Estimated Cost: $6,500+

If you and your spouse are on fairly good terms, mediation might be the right choice for you. You can choose to work virtually with one of our stellar mediators (learn more) or locate a mediator near you.

If you decide to work with a different mediator, you might choose to ask us to give a second opinion at any time.

Full Representation

Estimated Cost: $17,500 – $70,000 per person

The traditional approach to divorce involves hiring an attorney on a retainer. Our partner law firm, Levine Family Law Group is available for full representation.

Minimize your legal fees by finding answers to your questions in our curated resource library. We can also help with an affordable and convenient second opinion any time.

Resources to Support You

Check out our curated resource library, especially the section on the divorce process. Every resource included was inspired by a question from someone like you.

Below please find a few resources that specifically deal with understanding the divorce process as a whole.



Questions? Feeling overwhelmed?

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