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Court Process 2017-09-27T22:18:48+00:00

First, you must fill out and file with the court clerk the following:

  • Petition – Marriage/Domestic Partnership (form FL-100)

The Petition for Dissolution of Marriage is the initial document filed with the California court. It is in this document that the filing spouse will request the court to terminate the marriage under certain specified grounds. Dissolution of the marriage may be based on either of the following grounds: (1) irreconcilable differences or (2) permanent legal incapacity to make decisions.

  • Irreconcilable differences are those grounds which are determined by the court to be adequate reasons for the marriage to not continue and which makes it evident that the marriage should be terminated.
  • Permanent legal incapacity to make decisions requires ample proof that such an incapacitating condition exists. This can be presented through competent medical or psychiatric testimony from a professional. Additionally, the spouse must have been legally incapacitated at the time the divorce petition was filed.

The Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, which must be completed in all cases, identifies the petitioner and respondent, the date of the marriage, the date of separation, the minor children (if any), makes a declaration of assets and debts and states the relief sought. Depending on whether the couple are in agreement, other forms may be accompanied with the Petition.

If there are minor children of the marriage, the petitioner must file the Declaration Under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), and attach it to the petition. The couple may have also already written a Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA), in which case it is submitted as an attachment. Additionally, a Summons (FL-110) and Proof of Service of Summons (FL-115) must be filed. A summons tells your spouse that a court case has started and what will happen if he or she does not respond in 30 days. The Proof of Service of Summons stipulates the manner of service to the Respondent. Once filed with the clerk, the clerk will stamp and return copies of the forms filed to the petitioner.

The respondent must be served with the court forms, AND a blank response (form FL-120). The respondent can be served with these forms by:

  • Someone 18 years or older who is not the petitioner

Once served, the court proof of service form (FL-115) must be filed with the court.

The respondent has 30 days to file a response to the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. If the respondent does not respond in 30 days, it may result in a default judgment against him or her. The response form, (form FL-120) can be found here. (need to insert the hyperlink: http://www.courts.ca.gov/documents/fl120.pdf)). Respondent must also file a proof of service along with the response form. Either Proof of Personal Service FL-330 or Proof of Service by Mail FL-335, depending on how you serve your response.

Petitioner to Respondent:

Within 60 days of filing the petition, the petitioner must have the following documents served on the respondent. Please note these documents do not need to be filed in court:

  • Declaration of Disclosure (FL-140)
  • Income and Expense Declaration (FL-150)
  • Schedule of Assets and Debts (FL-142)
  • Property Declaration (FL-160)
  • All tax returns filed by the party in the past two years before disclosure documents were served

To File with the Court:

  • The petitioner must file a Declaration Regarding Service (FL-141) with the court, stating that disclosures were served on the other party.

Please note: The 60 day time frame for serving these financial disclosures may be changed by written agreement between the parties, or by court order.

Respondent to Petitioner:

When the respondent files his/her response, they must also have the following documents served on the petitioner within 60 days of filing the response. Please note these documents do not need to be filed in court:

  • Declaration of Disclosure (FL-140)
  • Income and Expense Declaration (FL-150)
  • Schedule of Assets and Debts (FL-142)
  • Property Declaration (FL-160)
  • All tax returns filed by the party in the past two years before disclosure documents were served

To File with the Court:

  • The petitioner must file a Declaration Regarding Service (FL-141) with the court, stating that disclosures were served on the other party.

Please note: The 60 day time frame for serving these financial disclosures may be changed by written agreement between the parties, or by court order.

If a spouse does not respond in 30 days, the petitioner may file a Request to Enter a Default, which bars the respondent from further entering into his or her own divorce case.

When a couple agrees on all issues, or when either defaults, the court may issue a Declaration for Default or Uncontested Dissolution, which results in a Judgment for Dissolution without a court appearance. After a summary action, an uncontested action coursing along this default route is probably the easiest route to a divorce.