All of the California Divorce Papers That You Need to Get a Divorce
If you’ve decided to split from your spouse or domestic partner, then you might be feeling pretty intimidated by the divorce process. After all, you’re no family law expert.
We’re not going to lie to you -- the California court system makes you fill out a lot of divorce paperwork, and this task isn’t for the faint of heart.
Before you and your spouse can begin to move on with your lives, you need to know what you’re working with. Consider this your step-by-step guide through all of the California divorce papers, delivering you from married life to a new beginning.
Even if you’re a family law novice, you still might have heard of the form that initiates your divorce proceedings -- the divorce petition.
This form establishes some basic information about you and your spouse. First of all, you’ll note whether you’re pursuing legal separation, dissolution of marriage, or dissolution of a domestic partnership.
If you are seeking a dissolution of marriage, the California court system will also need you to show that you meet the state’s residency requirement. This step is not necessary for couples pursuing legal separation or ending a domestic partnership.
You’ll then have to list the grounds for dissolving your marriage or domestic partnership here. California is a no-fault divorce state, so you’ll select either irreconcilable differences, or that your marriage was never valid to begin with.
You will also need to indicate whether you and your spouse have minor children, whether you’re seeking a spousal or child support order, and whether you have child custody issues to resolve. In addition, you’ll provide some preliminary information about your debts and assets.
The petition will establish who is the petitioner in your divorce case, and who is the respondent. It doesn’t really matter who is who -- it just means you’ll be responsible for filing slightly different divorce documents.
You and/or your spouse will be responsible for either paying a filing fee or requesting a filing fee waiver at this point.
FL-105: Declaration Under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act
This next step in the divorce process concerns child custody, so it’s only necessary if you and your spouse share minor children. The court needs lots of information about your kids, and this is where you’ll be answering these questions.
Besides the basics -- your children’s names, ages, where they’ve been living and with whom -- you’ll also indicate whether there has ever been another court case associated with your kids, and whether there are any domestic violence restraining/protective orders currently in effect.
Thankfully, this next part of your divorce filing doesn’t have anything for you to fill out. Instead, the summons lets the court provide you with some initial information about how the divorce process will go.
The summons states that once the petitioner has done the initial filing, the respondent has 30 days to, well, respond. It also lists some things that are not allowed until you have been issued a final judgment of divorce, like altering or hiding your assets, or removing your children from the state.
FL-115: Proof of Service of Summons
The next form is pretty self-explanatory. The Proof of Service lets the court know that the respondent has been properly served with the initial legal separation or divorce forms. It also describes how and when the service occurred.
Unlike most of these forms, you and your spouse are not required to fill it out. The person who fills it out is whoever does the serving, which, in the case of personal service, can be anyone over the age of 18 who is not a party to the divorce action.
FL-330: Proof of Personal Service
You know how we said that FL-115 describes how the summons was served? Well, that’s because you’ve got options.
The classic choice is personal service, in which a third party hands the paperwork directly to the respondent. If that is the decision that the petitioner makes, then that third party will be required to sign off on having done so in this form.
FL-335: Proof of Service by Mail
In California, service by mail is also an acceptable method for getting the initial documents to the respondent.
This form is analogous to FL-335, but for mail service instead of personal service. Service by mail still requires a third party to get the job done, and once they’ve finished, they’ll attest to having done so in this form.
FL-117: Notice and Acknowledgment of Receipt
Now the respondent has an opportunity to indicate that they did in fact receive the initial set of forms. This is just to make sure that the respondent spouse is on the same page as the petitioner spouse.
This form is vital because, if the respondent fails to answer the petition, the court will issue what is called a default judgment. A default divorce can seriously favor the petitioner, because the respondent never gets a chance to say their piece.
If this form is missing, then the court knows that something isn’t going quite right before things get any further.
This form closely mirrors the petition, the only real difference is that the other spouse is responsible for filing it with the court. For a description of its contents, see the FL-100 heading above
FL-130: Appearance, Stipulations, and Waivers
In this form, you and your spouse (and each party’s divorce attorney, if you choose to hire them) will both sign off on whether you will be pursuing a contested divorce or an uncontested divorce.
Let’s take a moment to explain the difference between these two types of divorce.
A contested dissolution means that you will need help from the court to resolve family law matters like child support, spousal support, child custody, and the division of assets. An uncontested dissolution means that you are able to work these issues out on your own or through other means, like mediation or collaborative divorce.
FL-140: Declaration of Disclosure
This form indicates that you have included your required financial information in your divorce filing packet. The financial documents themselves are to follow.
FL-141: Declaration Regarding Service of Declaration of Disclosure and Income and Expense Declaration
This form acknowledges receipt of the other party’s financial disclosures and associated documents.
Both you and your spouse will have to provide financial information, and both of you will have to sign off that the other spouse did too.
FL-142: Schedule of Assets and Debts
This form is kind of a beast. Here, you’ll take a complete inventory of everything you have and owe, both individually and jointly with your spouse.
Both parties have to fill out this declaration, and it can be very time-consuming.
FL-144: Stipulation and Waiver of Final Declaration and Disclosure
If both parties to the dissolution agree, then you can fill out this form and avoid having to file your financial declarations formally with the court.
However, this form doesn’t mean that you are not obligated to make the required disclosures to your spouse. If you take the time to parse this form’s legalese, you’ll see that you’re actually signing that you have already made the required declarations, you’re just opting to cut through some of the red tape.
FL-150: Income and Expense Declaration
This form is another pretty tedious one. In it, you’ll provide a comprehensive accounting of your income and expenses, as well as some other information regarding your education and employment.
This form is very important for determining spousal support. You have an extra page to do if child support is at issue in your divorce, as well.
If you’ve ever done your own taxes, this form is along the same lines. There is definitely a bit of math involved.
FL-170: Declaration for Default or Uncontested Dissolution or Legal Separation
You’ll have to fill out this form if your spouse never responds to the petition. In it, you’ll explain whether or not you and your spouse have some kind of separation agreement, and if so, the terms of the agreement.
Ladies and gentlemen, it’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for. This blessed form indicates that the Superior Court has issued an official divorce judgment, and you are no longer married!
This form also gives a basic overview of your divorce terms. You’ll attach your actual agreement (a.k.a. stipulation) as well.
FL-182: Judgment Checklist
This form is required if your case defaults, or if it is simply uncontested. As the name suggests, it’s a checklist to make sure that all required forms have been submitted in order for the court to issue a divorce decree.
FL-190: Notice of Entry of Judgment
The purpose of this form is to notify you and/or your divorce lawyer that your divorce has been finalized. You no longer require their legal advice, so the billable hours had to stop piling up sometime, right?
In case you haven’t taken the time to count them, that’s a total of eighteen forms. Eighteen. What a nightmare!
You may or may not be eligible for a summary dissolution, in which case the process is a little simpler, but you still can expect a major headache even if you are lucky enough to qualify.
That’s why we strongly recommend you consider online divorce with It’s Over Easy. We’ll take care of the paperwork from start to finish for a low flat fee.
Getting divorced can be incredibly stressful. Why make things harder than they have to be?
Learn more about how divorce in California works in these articles: