Is Filing for Divorce Online in California an Option?
Yes, this definitely an option to consider. If you need a step guide about how to go through the online divorce service, you can make use of a self-help divorce book or various online divorce services that can provide the necessary steps to take like A People’s Choice.
California’s online divorce filing requirements can be quite straightforward with the relevant guidance to assist you with steps to file and serve divorce papers. It will be your responsibility to have all criteria filled out fully and accurately for the process to move optimally based on the outlined grounds for divorce. This is crucial to avoid any delays or discrepancies when going through your divorce from the start to the end.
How Can I Start Filing for Divorce Online?
A California online divorce can be conducted without the use of divorce lawyers and can be started at any time. As you go about the divorce proceeding, you will need to ensure that you have the necessary forms. The basic steps to online divorce are as follows:
- Filing for Divorce – You will need to file a petition with the court and serve this to your spouse within a reasonable period.
- Response to Petition – The spouse will have a 30 day period of time to file a response to your divorce petition.
- Order to Show Cause – This is a hearing that a spouse can file for so a judge can make temporary court orders regarding restraining orders, child support, and custody if there are children involved.
- The Discovery Process – This is where you and your spouse exchange information and paperwork connected to the divorce. The Preliminary Declarations of Disclosure are crucial aspects of the discovery process. This document is used by both spouses to list all owned property. Both of community and separate.
- A Settlement Discussion – You and your spouse will then agree to meet and determine a settlement with the possible aid of a family law attorney.
- Agreement Procurement – Once you and your spouse have agreed on the settlement, one of the lawyers will establish a Marriage Settlement Agreement which will contain the terms of this agreement. This document will need to be signed by you, your spouse, and representing divorce attorneys.
- Trial – This occurs if you and your spouse do not come to an amicable agreement on aspects such as property division or child support and custody. These disputes will be settled in a family court.
- Dissolution of Marriage – Once the Marriage Settlement Agreement is signed, or the trial has ended, the attorneys will need to procure a Judgement of Dissolution of Marriage. This form keeps a record of all court orders from the divorce.
What Documentation Do You Need to Begin Filing for Divorce Online?
There are numerous divorce documents you will need throughout the process. In California, making use of a legal document assistant service like A People’s Choice can be a great help. An alternative would be to make use of the self-help center of the California court’s website.
Here, it outlines every form that applies to you and the circumstances of the marriage. You will need to go through the list of documents and see which applies to your case. A legal document assistant will be able to save you time and effort by doing this for you after assessing your case.
However, for all California divorce cases. You will need the following to begin proceedings:
- FL-100 – This is the Divorce Petition that starts the whole process. You and your spouse will need to list all crucial information relating to your marriage such as dates, property, children, etc.
- FL-110 – This is the Summons that informs your spouse that divorce proceedings have begun and there will be a 30 day period that the spouse will have to respond in. This document will need to be delivered to your spouse by an alternative method. It cannot be delivered by yourself.
- FL-115 – This is the Proof of Service of Summons. What this document does is inform the court that you have indeed served your spouse with the relevant divorce papers.
You can access these current forms and additional documents from the California court’s website. You will need to print these download forms and complete them. Once you’ve completed this step, you will need to file the forms with the court. Be aware that there is a filing fee that is required.
Filing for Divorce Online with Children
If you suspect that your spouse may resort to domestic violence, kidnap your children, withdraw money from bank accounts, or hide other forms of property, there are methods to protect yourself from this. This can range from requesting a court order to prevent violence, contacting childcare providers or schools requesting that the child only be released to you, or getting a passport for the child to prevent removal from the country.
It is advised to request a hearing for a judge to make a temporary court order appointing you with child custody if you believe there is a risk of harm from your spouse. You will need to provide for yourself and possibly the child or minor children involved during the divorce process. You can receive spousal and child support for this situation by filling out certain forms.
The Filing and Serving of California Online Divorce Papers
You (the filing spouse) will first need to fill out the relevant forms and go to your nearest courthouse to submit the divorce petition and summons. Although there is a filing fee, you can request a fee waiver to avoid any additional costs. However, you will need to wait on the court’s approval for this, depending on the evidence that you cannot afford to pay the filing fee.
Once it is confirmed that you have completed every step, you will need to file it with the county clerk’s office. The clerk’s office will stamp your divorce papers and give you copies. Your spouse doesn’t need to be there for this part, but you will need to serve them the stamped copy of the papers.
Now you will need to serve your spouse with the necessary papers. As mentioned, you cannot deliver these documents in person. Therefore, you can make use of the following methods:
- Mail – You can mail the forms to your spouse’s physical address. They will need to complete a Notice and Acknowledgement of Receipt for the court to know that the forms were received.
- County Sheriff – You can request your local county sheriff to deliver the divorce papers for you. Be aware that you will need to pay an additional charge for this service. What this method can ensure is that your spouse receives the divorce forms even if they are uncooperative.
- Friends or Family – You can ask a close friend or family member to deliver the legal forms for you.
- Process Server – There are professional services for hire that specialize in delivering divorce forms.
What’s Next? Going Through the Discovery Process
Once your spouse has been served and there’s been a response within a valid timeframe, you can now proceed to fill out and serve your financial disclosure forms. This is where California divorce law requires both you and your spouse to exchange information about what you own and what debts you have, along with your income and expenses. These documents are called disclosure forms.
This step aims to ensure that you and your spouse are made aware of each other’s estates and debts. This helps to divide community property and separate property and expenses equally and fairly. This also helps with making decisions toward child support and custody by revealing a spouse’s financial information.
Your divorce cannot be approved if this step is not carried out. If any information is left out from your paperwork, either by mistake or intentionally, the property division can be canceled. If the court discovers that you have lied in any way on your disclosure forms, the court can appoint any unlisted property to your spouse and pay their legal fees as a penalty.
To receive your divorce decree at the end of this process, you will need to go through the necessary steps and wait for a six-month period before the divorce is approved.
Assistance with California Online Divorce
Ending your marriage is never an easy task, but sorting out your divorce doesn’t have to be. Going through the online route will save you money and time. Speaking with a legal document assistant service can make things go even faster and efficiently.
A People’s Choice will provide legal assistance with filing for divorce online. Our team of legal document assistants can help you through every step of the process!