Every state has different rules when it comes to filing for divorce, so it can be helpful to speak to an attorney as soon as possible after realizing that your marriage may be heading for dissolution. In California, anyone seeking divorce will be required to file various forms with the court and serve them on their spouse.
If you are the one petitioning for divorce, then your first step will be to file two forms: Form FL-100 and Form FL-110. Form FL-100 is a petition in which you will give the court information about your marriage. The form requires you to answer questions about your legal relationship, residency, length of the marriage, and children (if you have any). You will also have to answer questions regarding your separation, and specify what you want in terms of child custody, child support, alimony, and property division. This form can have a major effect on the outcome of your case, so it is important that the information you provide accurately reflects what you are seeking in the divorce.
Form FL-110 is a summons containing critical information about the divorce process. This summons will address various restraining orders that both you and your spouse have to abide by. For example, you and your spouse are prevented from moving out of the state with your children, disposing or transferring property without written consent from your spouse, and cancelling or changing the beneficiaries of your insurance.
You may also require additional forms, including Form FL-160 for property declaration, if you have additional property or debts not listed on your petition, and Form FL-105/GC-120 for child custody, if you have kids under 18 years of age.
Once these forms are filled out, you will have to file them with the court clerk and serve your spouse with copies of all court papers. Once your spouse has been served, they will have 30 days to file a response. If they do not file a response on time, the court may issue orders relating to your divorce. You will also have to file your financial disclosures within 60 days of filing your petition.
The divorce process can be difficult to navigate, but fortunately there is help available if you need it. Consult with a family law attorney for more information on filing for divorce in California.