When I first started practicing family/divorce law in California, I wanted someone to walk me through the process, start to finish, so I could understand it as a whole. What is troublesome, unfortunately, is that all divorces differ in many ways, so looking at the process in general can be tricky. But let’s try…
In California, the first step in getting a divorce is to file a Petition. It’s fairly easy, and it doesn’t matter at all which spouse files the Petition (or files first). There’s no advantage or benefit to filing the Petition over the Response (though there may be some advantages/disadvantages to filing sooner or later, but see an attorney on this…like me!). To file a Petition in California you have to have lived in California for six months prior to the filing and in the county where you have filed for three months prior to the filing.
Once the Petition is filed (and the UCCJEA if you have children), you may need to file for an immediate court order regarding support, child custody and visitation, property or debt division, or some other urgent manner. To do this, you file a Request for Order. For any issues regarding support, you much file an Income and Expense Declaration, showing your – you got it – income and expenses so the court can calculate the appropriate support.
To complete your divorce, not only do you have to agree on child and spousal support, child custody and visitation, asset and debt division and any other issues you may have, but you have to complete your disclosures and obtain a Judgment. The disclosures are forms that require you to list your income, expenses, assets and debts: the Income and Expense Declaration and the Schedule of Assets and Debts (yes, the form names are pretty self-explanatory!), as well as a form showing you delivered these to your soon-to-be-ex-spouse. These are required in California, so you must be prepared to share all of your income, expenses, assets and debts with your spouse to get divorce.
You’re now in the home stretch: to obtain a Judgment, once you have everything resolved, you have to file a number of documents with the court. It can be confusing, and most courts have packets at the clerk’s office to help you complete it. Need more detailed help? Click here to make an online appointment.
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