Every marital dissolution filed in California requires both the petitioner and the respondent to complete and file several forms prior to finalizing the divorce. From filing the initial petition to entering the final judgment, parties will prepare anywhere from 10-20 documents on average during the divorce process.
This is probably not your first online quest for an inexpensive and lawyer-free divorce. Like many unhappily married people in California, you have probably visited the California courts’ self-service family law website, glanced at the voluminous divorce legal papers required, and then quickly clicked away. Any reasonable person would be intimidated by the sheer volume of divorce legal paperwork the California courts appear to want you to submit before they will dissolve your marriage. In California, there are several paths to divorce, so not every person who wants to get divorced must fill out every single divorce legal paper available. Completing all the divorce paperwork by yourself can be an exercise in frustration, like preparing your own tax returns, except that making a mistake can be even more costly. At A People’s Choice, we help residents complete California divorce forms in a professional, low-cost manner. We have years of experience successfully preparing divorce documents on our clients’ behalf. Contact us in confidence to find out how we can help you, and read on to learn more about how to obtain California divorce forms.
Which Divorce Legal Papers Do You Need?
Exactly which documents you need depends on the particular circumstances of your divorce. If you have minor children, you will need a parenting plan, and if you are trying to divide your spouse’s retirement account or pension, then you will need a QDRO. All divorce cases start with the same two forms, though, namely the divorce petition and the family law summons. If you and your spouse already have a plan for how to divide your property and parenting time, then you can simply file the forms without any input from a lawyer. Most divorces are not complicated enough to require a lawyer, so hiring one is just a waste of money. Filing your own court documents can be a challenge, though. A People’s Choice California legal document assistant can professionally and affordably prepare your divorce documents, from the initial divorce application forms required to start your case to until the day when the judge declares you legally single.
The divorce legal papers your case may require depends on a couple of things. First, is your divorce contested or uncontested? Did you sign a marital settlement agreement? Were you able to locate your spouse to serve him or her with a copy of the divorce papers when you filed for divorce? Do you have minor children? Is one of your marital assets the family home?
The simplest kind of divorce you can get is an uncontested divorce with a marital settlement agreement. To complete that divorce process, you will need the following divorce legal papers and forms:
- Form FL-100 (Petition for Dissolution of Marriage or Domestic Partnership)
- Form FL-110 (Summons)
- Form FL-105 (Declaration Under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act)
- Form FL-115 (Proof of Service of Summons)
- Form FL-130 (Appearance, Stipulation, and Waivers)
- Form FL-180 (Proposed Judgment)
If you have a contested divorce, meaning that your spouse filed a response to your divorce petition, there are additional documents.
The Divorce Paperwork to Get Your Divorce Case Off the Ground
Your divorce can take any of several paths, but all divorce cases in California start with the same few items of divorce paperwork. To get your divorce started, you must file Form FL-100, the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, also known as the divorce petition. When you submit Form FL-100, you also attach to it FL-110, the Summons. If you and your spouse have children under age 18, your initial divorce filing must also include FL-105 (Declaration Under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act). Then a third party (it can be a professional process server, or anyone else who is not you), must deliver a copy of those two forms to your spouse to notify your spouse that you have filed for divorce. After your spouse receives the divorce paperwork, the person who served your spouse with the divorce papers must file Form FL-115, a document proving that your spouse has received the divorce paperwork.
After that, the required divorce paperwork is determined by whether your spouse files a response to your divorce petition. If your spouse does not file a response, you can have an uncontested divorce, or default divorce. If your spouse does file a response, then there is more divorce paperwork for your spouse to complete. The California courts website has a list of divorce paperwork that the parties must file in different situations.
Divorce Application Forms to File for Divorce and Serve Your Spouse
The first step to getting divorced is to file Form FL-100 with the court in your county. Form FL-100 is the divorce petition; you must also file the summons notifying your spouse that you have filed for divorce. The initiating divorce application form is called the “petition” and includes the following information:
- Your name and your spouse’s name
- The date of your marriage
- The date of your separation
- The names and birth dates of your minor children
- The assets and debts that the parties own jointly or separately
The summons is another divorce application form that is required at the beginning of the process. The summons states that, until your divorce becomes final or you withdraw the petition, your spouse may not alienate marital assets or transport your minor children outside the state. Alienating marital assets includes selling them, discarding them, giving them away, or transferring their title to someone else’s name. If you have minor children, you must also file a Declaration Under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (Form FL-105) attached to Form FL-100 and Form FL-110. Serving your spouse with papers means handing the papers to your spouse in person or taking some other action to make sure your spouse can see them. If you cannot locate your spouse, there are alternatives to serving your spouse with papers.
What Happens Next After You Serve Your Spouse with Papers?
There are many steps involved in finalizing a divorce to help you we created California divorce timeline so you can better understand the process. Please also see our California Divorce frequently asked questions for answers to common divorce questions. After you serve your spouse with the divorce papers, your spouse has 31 days to file a response to the petition. If your spouse does not file a response, then it is an uncontested divorce. The most amicable way to divorce is to agree with your spouse about the terms you will request before you file the divorce petition and then have an uncontested divorce.
Preparing Your Divorce Paperwork Does Not Have to Put a Big Dent in Your Finances
Filling out divorce paperwork can be a daunting task. Lawyers are willing to do it for you, but only if you pay them their requested hourly rate, which is usually unfairly inflated. The most affordable way to get your divorce documents done correctly is by having a registered legal document assistant do them for you.
Non-attorney legal document assistant services are an affordable way to complete your divorce papers correctly the first time. Contact A People’s Choice to get your divorce paperwork done professionally at an affordable price. You can reach our experienced staff at 800-747-2780.
Benefits of Using a Non-Attorney Professional for California Divorce Forms
In California, it is possible to get your divorce documents prepared professionally without hiring a divorce lawyer. Non-attorney legal document assistants have the authority and the professional qualifications to prepare documents for divorce and other court documents for clients who are representing themselves in divorce cases and other routine legal procedures. Legal document assistants are not paralegals. It is true that if you hire a law firm to represent you in an uncomplicated divorce, paralegals will probably do most of the work. The difference is that paralegals can only work within a law firm, with a lawyer’s supervision. Therefore, you are still paying law firm prices. It makes much better financial sense to have a registered legal document assistant prepare your documents for divorce.
Most divorces are simply a matter of paperwork. In fact, attorneys usually just assign legal document preparation tasks to their paralegals at an exorbitant cost to the client. Therefore, parties should consider using a non-attorney professional to complete California divorce forms to save thousands of dollars in legal fees.
Contact A People’s Choice today to find out how you can get legal document help at an affordable price for your California divorce. We offer several convenient interview processes, including in-person, over telephone, and online.