A divorce is usually a tough time for all parties involved. This is a very turbulent time with all sorts of emotions flaring around. And what if you can’t afford a lawyer? Or, what if you don’t want to pay a lawyer thousands of dollars for something you can do yourself?
This article is meant for people who want to file for an uncontested divorce or learn how to do it themselves in California.
Here are a few easy steps and procedures that must be completed for an uncontested divorce proceeding in the State of California.
Note: These forms and procedures can be complicated. Check out our Divorce Navigator for an easy to follow guided interview that completes your forms for you and in some cases with a Divorce Expert
Prepare and File Initial Petition
The county court will require you to start by filing Petition FL-100 and Summons FL-110 in addition to local forms and judicial council forms. (View our complete list of California divorce forms, with links.) The Summons is a formal notice that gets served to the other spouse with 30 days to respond. The Summons also restrain either party from fleeing the state with minor children or selling assets.
The Petition contains the date of marriage, date of dissolution, property, identifies the children or post marriage, and makes a declaration to the community. During submission, you’ll need to pay an initial court filing fee. Upon acceptance of the Petition, your case will be assigned a case number that will be used to file all your future case documents.
Serve Your Spouse
This is what jump-starts the divorce process and allows the court to make decisions regarding your case. Attempts to contact the other party must be proven before the court can proceed. You will have to file a Proof of Service FL-115 with the court. It’s what formally initiates the process and the earliest date of termination.
Exchange Financial Information
Under California Law and statutes, both parties are required to exchange their respective financial information. Failure of compliance could be grounds for the court to pass judgment should it be brought to the court’s attention by one of the parties.
Hello Divorce has created this free worksheet to help you and your ex divide your property and debt.
Sign a Marital Settlement Agreement
When you and your ex have come to an agreement on the three things you need to agree on before finalizing your divorce, you will be issued a Marital Settlement Agreement. It’s a formal document attached to the Final Judgement of Dissolution. It lays out everything that will need resolving through the divorce. It will allow the divorce to proceed without the parties needing to appear before a court of law.
Those are the basics you need to follow for an uncontested divorce in the State of California. Divorce is a multi-billion dollar industry that too often pits one spouse against another in an endless cycle of the blame game. But one doesn’t just wake up one morning and decide to end the marriage. It’s usually a decision made after a long period of heavy thought and consideration.
Filing for divorce is the judicial equivalent to filing a lawsuit. It won’t be straightforward. You will need to have the temperament and time to do your research, compile documentation, and follow through on appearances and court filings. At the same time, you’ll need to find ways to care for your emotional and physical health.
Hello Divorce is an online divorce platform, but we also believe in wellness and self-care. Sign-up today for a free starter membership and you’ll get access to everything you need to know about getting a low-cost online divorce, with tips and advice from top experts in the divorce, financial and wellness industries who can help you reach your next chapter with your dignity and pocketbook intact.