Once you and your spouse have decided to divorce, it is important that you understand what your next step should be. The divorce process can be daunting, especially if you have some other factors in your relationship that could make the situation more complicated. In fact, divorces are more likely to be problematic if the couple shared a long married life, had children together, or either spouse possessed a large number of assets.
For couples who are going through a divorce, or are considering their options, our firm has explained the basic steps every California couple must take to obtain a divorce.
Gathering and Signing the Forms
The divorce process begins by filing a petition. In California, there are certain forms that must be filled out to form the petition, which will include the Marriage, Summons, and Proof of Service Summons forms. These forms may also be called Family Law Form FL-100, FL-110, and FL-115, respectively. If you and your spouse share children who are under the age of 18, you must also file the Declaration Under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, also called Family Law Form FL-1005/GC-120. There is also an option to sign the Child Custody and Visitation Application Attachment as well as the Property Declaration. The petitioner will begin the divorce process by initiating each of these forms and will then serve the forms to the respondent.
Filing Your Divorce Papers
Once the appropriate forms have been filled out, you make take the documents to your local courthouse to be filed. There will be a fee for filing unless you are unable to afford it, in which case the fee may be waived via Form FW-001. Make sure you receive copies of the papers for your records once they’ve been stamped and approved.
Serving Your Spouse the Divorce Documents
After they’ve been approved by the court, you must serve your spouse the divorce documents, which will notify him or her that the divorce process is underway. If your spouse is represented by a lawyer, your lawyer will send the documents to your spouse’s legal representative. If your spouse does not have legal representation, the papers will be served directly to his or her home.
Negotiating the Terms of the Divorce
The bulk of the work of the divorce takes place while each spouse, and their respective legal representatives, work out the terms of the divorce. During this time they will negotiate child custody or visitation, property division, child support, spousal support, and any other issues related to their split. In the event that the couple is unable to work out the terms of their divorce, the case may go to trial.
In addition to working out the terms of the divorce, there are also additional forms that need to be filled out at this time. The forms include:
- Declaration of Disclosure (FL-140)
- Income and Expense Declaration (FL-150)
- Schedule of Assets and Debts (FL-142)
- Property Declaration (FL-160)
- Declaration Regarding Service of Declaration of Disclosure (FL-141)
When you and your spouse have reached an agreement for the terms of your divorce, you may file the Marital Settlement Agreement with the court. There will be a public hearing where the court will go over your proposed agreement and issue a final judgment.
If you have any questions about the divorce process in California, our firm can help. Contact Westover Law Group get started on your divorce case today.