You have now received a Divorce Petition (FL-100) and Summons (FL-110). If you have minor children with your spouse, you likely also received a UCCJEA* form (FL-105).
So, now what?
First, if you were served via mail, the packet you received likely came with a Notice and Acknowledgment of Receipt (FL-117). If you sign and return this document to your spouse, you can avoid personal service (i.e. a third party, often a “process server,” showing up at your doorstep or workplace with instructions to hand you the initial divorce documents).
By signing the Notice and Acknowledgment of Receipt (NAOR), you are not agreeing to anything in particular that your spouse put in the divorce forms. Rather, you are simply acknowledging receipt of the documents and starting the 6 month waiting period. In other words, in California, even if you finish your divorce forms quickly, the earliest you can be divorced is 6 months from the date of personal service (delivery) or, 6 months from the date the NAOR is signed.
However, by signing the NAOR, you have triggered another important timeline – you must decide if you are going to file a “Response” (FL-120), and if so, you must it do it within 30 days from signing the NAOR. If you and your spouse already have an agreement on all divorce-related issues OR, if you expect that you and your spouse will be able to work together towards an agreement (either on your own or with a mediator), you may not need to file a Response. Instead, you and your spouse can agree to extend the deadline for a particular time period until and unless you reach an agreement. This doesn’t have to be a formal agreement.
Related: Should I file a Response? You can also consult with a lawyer.
If you decide to file a Response, you will also need to pay the County filing fee (usually $435) and complete Step 2 of the divorce process – your mandatory financial disclosures. Here’s a list of the documents and information you will need to collect to complete this step. You are welcome to sign up for your own membership option to make the preparation and filing of your divorce forms really convenient.
Quick Tip: We recommend purchasing “DIY Pro” for 1-2 months so you can complete Step 1 and Step 2. (Only one of you needs to complete Step 3).
If you decide not to file a Response, it’s partially a waiting game. Your spouse must complete Step 2 and serve you with their financial documents. S/he may need some information from you – specifically financial information. It’s a good idea to be transparent with your finances here – so that we can include your assets and accounts in the Judgment and Agreement (Step 3). If you leave out an asset, debt or account in the agreement (even if it is being “assigned” to you or was already your separate property), it could be considered an omitted asset down the road (and therefore, be subject to division).
Next, you’ll work with your spouse to come to an agreement on all divorce issues. Even if you are not a paid member, you can still sign up for a free account and take advantage of our loads of resources – including this co-parenting plan worksheet. If you and your spouse are not already using Hello Divorce for mediation, we are always happy to refer you to a mediator if you have trouble coming to an agreement on property, debt, support and/or shared parenting related issues.
Once you have an agreement, you or your spouse can use the Divorce Navigator to prepare the forms needed for Step 3. Or, if your spouse has a Divorce Plus or Divorce with Benefits membership, you can sit back and wait for the legal assistant to prepare it for you. It’s up to you whether or not you want to have a lawyer review it before you ultimately sign off.
Finally, after signing the Step 3 forms, your divorce judgment will be sent to the court for processing. When it comes back filed from the court, you will be officially divorced.
*Declaration Under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act