Filing for divorce in California needs some due diligence and proper planning. To ensure you follow the right steps to divorce in the Golden State, you need to know what the applicable law (divorce law). The divorce process entails some legal procedures (steps) that lead to a default judgment.

As a divorcing spouse, you need to clearly outline every aspect of your divorce legal process. You must also evaluate the situation to justify the divorce approach to use (amicable or contested divorce). What are the eight steps to divorce in California in 2022?

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Les A.

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When Is Divorce Right for You?

Deciding to end a marriage has lifelong consequences. This not only happens to the filing spouse but also to the families and children involved. Thus, it’s really important to take a good look at the reasons pushing you towards filing a divorce petition. Before making up your mind on the types of divorce to choose, the services of family law attorneys could greatly help in the divorce mediation process.

Some couples decide to deliberate over it for a period of time before making a firm decision for a legal separation based on the divorce records provided. In other cases, however, you have no other option but to seek a divorce action due to an irretrievable breakdown in a marriage or a non-responding spouse.

This is especially true in cases involving criminal activity or common mistakes:

  • Domestic violence
  • Emotional abuse
  • Physical abuse
  • Marital misconduct

Therefore, dissolution of marriage becomes inevitable.

Do I Have to Tell My Spouse that I’m Considering Divorce?

There’s a pragmatic reason to approach your spouse to determine the possibility of seeking a legal petition for divorce. It’s much easier to handle an amicable divorce than a contested one. It’s generally shorter and less expensive hence less stressful for everyone.

This even allows you to avoid the divorce trial. Therefore, it’s in your best interest to try to work with your soon-to-be-ex if at all possible to end your marital status. To do this, select a good time to talk to your spouse and have a calm discussion on setting the legal grounds for your divorce or separation. You can also decide on issues like:

  • Marital debt and debt allocation
  • Custody of children and child support guidelines
  • Parenting time and child health care
  • Separation agreements

What Are the 8 Steps to Divorce in California?

To achieve your quest for divorce, you need to fulfill some key step guides that form the common grounds for divorce. Also, to formalize a divorce process in California, you must reside in the Golden State. Take note of these eight steps when seeking a divorce in California.

Step 1: Summons

All divorces start with the Summons (FL-110) notice. This is a notice containing a set of Standard Family Law Restraining Orders or “ATROs.” It intends to officially inform your spouse that you’ve filed for divorce and that they have 30 days to respond before the onset of actual divorce proceedings.

This is a compulsory form, necessary for the petitioner as well as the respondent. Again, this is not the best way for a spouse to find out about a divorce barring situations involving physical danger.

Step 2: Petition (FL-100)

This is another mandatory document to set the grounds for divorce. It’s a request for divorce step guide containing all the factual information that a judge needs before granting a divorce. It includes statistical data, residency information, etc.

If your marriage has yielded minor children at the time of divorce, you must also file the UCCJEA (FL-105) declaration. This form confirms that the state of California has the authority to make custody and visitation orders for minor children.

Step 3: Personal Service

Serving the papers informs your spouse that they now need to adhere to Standard Family Law Restraining Orders. The papers will serve as a binding document in your petition for divorce and other related marital legal issues. This also informs them of the legal proceeding for the divorce.

Any neutral third party can perform the service of handing over the legal document to your spouse. It’s your choice to determine when and how to give a proper service of the relevant documents. If it’s a mutual divorce and your partner never abused or disrespected you, you can personally serve the divorce papers.

Step 4: Response

After receiving a service for divorce, you’ll first have to carefully analyze and evaluate the relevant documents you’ve received. Additionally, you have up to 30 days to submit your response (acknowledgment of service) and initiate a divorce hearing. You can formally respond to the petitioner’s request for divorce by filing Response (FL-120).

Step 5: Temporary Orders

As mentioned earlier, the minimum waiting period for divorce in California is six months and a day. However, some people may find this unfitting due to a multitude of reasons. In that case, you can request temporary orders by filling out a form called Request for Order (FL-300).

Temporary orders stay in effect until the court makes another ruling or divorce judgment. You need to attach additional documents related to the temporary order you want along with the mandatory FL-300 form.

Step 6: Child Custody/Visitation Orders

Child Custody Recommending Counseling (CCRC), also called mediation, is obligatory in California. When you file for custody or visitation, CCRC takes place according to the procedure and regulation of the particular county.

Therefore, you need to perform elaborate custody evaluations. In many counties, CCRC can send written recommendations to the judge regarding the case.

Step 7: Financial Disclosure

According to California law, both spouses have a fiduciary duty to one another. Both parents must give transparent information about their:

  • Financial debts
  • Assets and separate property
  • Proof of income
  • Marital property
  • Credit card statements

Any joint real estate property must also get disclosed. Within 60 days of filing the initial paperwork and fulfilling other statutory requirements, you also need to file your financial disclosure. You also need to complete the following forms when giving a financial disclosure:

Step 8: Discovery Process

“Discovery” refers to the formal technique of getting pertinent information from your spouse. This helps in obtaining all the missing documents that you need. You have until 60 days before trial to get your discovery together during a divorce case.

How Can You Divide Retirement During Divorce?

steps to divorce

Before you start the steps to divide retirement in your -fault divorce or no-fault divorce, you must know 1) the value of the community property interest in the plan and 2) how to negotiate that value in the overall divorce settlement and property division process.

Further, you need to take note of the following steps when dividing retirement during a divorce.

File a Joinder

One of the first steps to divide retirement during divorce entails filing a joinder. Use a joinder to formally attach (join) the retirement plan as part of the collaborative divorce. Ideally, a joinder adds the retirement plan as an interested party (the claimant) to the judgment of divorce. Keep in mind, however, that it isn’t a requirement to file a joinder before dividing every type of retirement account.

Negotiate Division of Retirement Accounts

One of the next steps to divorce and divide retirement entails negotiating what each party receives during the division of properties. During divorce negotiations regarding the division of retirement assets and distribution of property, you must work with your spouse to divide the plan.

In some cases, one spouse may elect to receive a percentage of the payments when the other makes withdrawals on the pension plan regarding the division of retirement benefits.

Prepare a QDRO

Agreeing on the terms of the plan during property division in divorce may look hard, but it doesn’t end there. One of the final steps to divide benefits after retirement in divorce entails preparing a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO).

Once you present the completed and court-approved QDRO, the retirement plan administrator can divide the plan.

Do You Need Help with Steps to Divorce in California?

Although the steps to divorce mostly involve paperwork, the process is emotionally and physically draining. Any form of confusion or mistake in the divorce paperwork can cause unnecessary delays. A divorce attorney can provide you with a good plan that’ll ensure a smooth divorce.

However, attorneys in California charge highly for their services. As a cheaper and more effective alternative, you can go for legal service providers like A People’s Choice. We can’t provide legal advice, but we can help you complete your paperwork at affordable rates. To get started, just contact us today at 800-747-2780.