If you search the California Courts’ Self-Help website, you will be inundated with an extensive list of legal documents relevant to divorce. While you may not require all of these documents in your proceedings, it’s important to understand the purpose of every form. Plus, you should have a solid understanding of your situation and the steps you must take toward marriage dissolution. Keep reading for the insights you need to navigate the process with ease.

How Do I File for Divorce in California?

Grounds for Divorce

California was the first state to adopt the concept of “no-fault” divorce, meaning that the grounds for divorce in California are “irreconcilable differences.” So, if your partner does not want a divorce, you can independently end the marriage (mutual consent for divorce is no longer compulsory).


Before the filing process for divorce in California, you must first check whether you meet the eligibility criteria or not.

The California divorce residency requirement states that at least one spouse must be a resident of the state of California for at least six months before filing the divorce petition and requesting for nullity of marriage. You also must be living in the county where you are submitting the divorce plea for at least three months before filing the petition. If neither spouse fulfills California’s six-month living requirement, they can file legal separation form attachments and then modify the petition when they meet the residency criteria.

Steps for a California Divorce

Once you’re positive that you meet the criteria, you can file the mandatory standard forms needed to start a divorce. Detailed information on these forms is available in the next section.

After this step you will have to serve the divorce papers to your spouse to make them officially aware that a case has been opened for marriage dissolution and legal separation. During the divorce proceedings you can demand temporary orders through self-help forms if required. You can also obtain relevant information from your spouse through “discovery.”

Next, you will have to file all financial disclosure forms for your divorce paperwork. Following this, you can proceed with a settlement or trial, based on the complexity of your case regarding the nullity of marriage.

Finally, once you receive your filed judgment back from the court with a judge’s signature on it, along with a separately filed notice of entry of judgment, you will know that your divorce is final.

Is There a Faster Way to Get a Divorce in California?

In California, the simplest divorce cases are eligible for a process called summary dissolution of marriage. A summary dissolution or annulment of marriage is a legal divorce, ending with a court order dissolving your marriage. However, the legal formalities required to get a court-imposed order are fewer if you qualify for summary dissolution. The following are some of the legal requirements:

  • Less than five years from the marriage date to the date of final legal separation
  • No children from your committed relationship
  • Marital property valued at less than $45,000
  • Neither party has separate property valued at more than $45,000
  • Marital debts of $6,000 or less
  • Neither party owns real estate
  • Neither party requests spousal support

Keep in mind, filing a summary dissolution is not faster than a regular dissolution, and there are downsides as well. The California divorce papers required for a summary dissolution differ from the divorce papers required in a regular divorce. Even if you do not qualify for summary dissolution of marriage, it is usually easier to get divorced if you do not hire divorce lawyers or divorce attorneys.

Required Forms to Start Your Divorce

There are some common forms that most – if not all – divorcees in California will require. For example, a petitioner initiating the dissolution of a marriage will need to complete the following documents:

FL-100 Petition for Dissolution of a Marriage or Domestic Partnership

If you are the petitioning spouse, Form FL-100 is the first legal document you will complete during your divorce. This form provides the court with information pertinent to your marriage or domestic partnership. Additionally, it identifies what type of termination you are seeking (dissolution or divorce, nullification, or legal separation). Generally speaking, FL-100 gives the court a broad understanding of your circumstances, including:

FL-110 Summons

Along with FL-100, you must submit Form FL-110 Summons upon filing for divorce. This is the same form that will be served on your spouse to alert them of the divorce. This form is much simpler than FL-100 as it only requires your spouse’s name, court information, and your or your attorney’s contacts.

Miscellaneous Forms Due Upon Initial Filing and Service

In addition to FL-100 and FL-110, the remaining forms required to initiate your divorce depend on your personal circumstances. For example, if you and your spouse share minor children, you must complete Form FL-105 Declaration Under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA). Further, the court provides additional optional forms to provide more information to your spouse if you so choose.

Do I Need an Attorney?

Even the most organized people make mistakes when they are emotionally and mentally stressed. So it is not unusual for spouses to get stuck here and there in the divorce process. When this happens, you can either request a family law facilitator at the court to review your forms and make sure that everything is in order, or use a legal document assistance service for detailed instructions, like A People’s Choice.

If you wish to hire a divorce lawyer, the California Courts website has a list of recommended family law attorneys in every county.

However, do not forget the beaches, the lavish lifestyle, and the expensive attorneys of California. If you hire an attorney, your divorce will cost you somewhere around $17,500. The cost can rise to $26,000 in cases involving children.

If you don’t feel like paying all that extra money, our team of legal document assistants is exactly what you need.

Contact us to get help with your California divorce today!