It is 3 a.m. in Alameda County, CA, when your spouse’s phone chimes. Your partner is dead asleep. Over the last few months, your partner has been acting strange, so you decide to take a peek at their phone. Your instincts were correct, and the next thing you know, you’re googling “How to file for divorce in Alameda County.”

Sometimes, there are truly no alternatives to divorce. However, divorce can be a nightmare if you don’t do your research on how to file for divorce in Alameda County. That’s why we wrote this article—to help you understand the whole process. So get ready: you’re about to learn how to file for divorce in Alameda County.

How to File for Divorce in Alameda County: Basic Requirements

Before you even think of seeking legal advice or brushing through files that have information on how to file for divorce in Alameda County, you should ensure that you meet the basic requirements for divorce for California residents. They are in line with the laws and regulations in California, but don’t worry; they aren’t particularly strict.

Residency Requirements

When did you start living in California? Was it six months ago or more? Either you or your spouse must have lived in California before you can file a divorce. Further, you have to have lived for three consecutive months in Alameda County before starting divorce paperwork there.

Grounds for Divorce

You don’t need a criminal act like domestic violence to initiate a divorce. California state allows you to start your divorce proceedings based on incompatibility and breakdown of your marriage. If your spouse has been cheating on you, using offensive language, or otherwise making your life miserable, you can say that your marriage is irretrievably broken as grounds for divorce. Because California is a no-fault state, the reason for the divorce isn’t as crucial as it can be in other states.

There are some cases where incurable insanity forms the basis for the divorce. In such a case, a medical report is necessary to prove that. The process, whether for an online divorce or in-person, is a bit different in these cases because of the need for psychiatric testimony or input.

Divorce Papers

Alameda County family law courts stipulate a strict procedure of how to address and send those copies to your spouse. If you fail to file and send copies of divorce papers to your spouse, it can derail the whole process according to divorce laws. That’s just one reason why many people choose to get legal assistance from a legal document preparation service like A People’ Choice.

How to File for Divorce in Alameda County: Types, Forms and Filing Fees

How to File for Divorce in Alameda County

When filing for divorce in Alameda County, there’s a lot to consider. From whether you need a skilled divorce lawyer to figuring out divorce cost, the process can quickly get overwhelming. If you’re seeking physical custody of minor children, the process gets even more complex. By starting with the type of divorce and going into examining the applicable original forms and fees, you can demystify the process of divorce a bit.

Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce

Before we delve further into how to pursue a divorce decree, let’s briefly discuss the two types of divorce. This will help you figure out the process you’ll need to follow and which forms and filing fees apply to your divorce petition.

Uncontested Divorce

No one likes to spend much time on traditional divorce proceedings. The good news? An uncontested divorce requires less time and effort. However, you need to agree with your spouse on matters such as:

  • Distribution of marital property, including rental property and separate property
  • Child support payments and alimony payments
  • Child custody issues and a parenting plan

This type of divorce is sometimes referred to as an “amicable divorce.” We’ll go into a little more detail on how to pursue this process of divorce later in this article. You might also end up with a default judgment in a divorce, but this only happens if one party fails to respond when the other person files for divorce.

Contested Divorce

You’d fall into this category if you cannot seem to agree on anything with your spouse. This includes property division and decisions about how to care for your minor children after the traditional divorce. Sometimes, such situations are unavoidable.

You’ll also want to give some extra thought to your situation if you have children. Who will get legal custody and physical custody of your kids? If there’s a dispute about physical child custody, this can make a contested divorce inevitable. Legal custody battles are one of the main causes of contested divorces since physical child custody is such an emotionally charged topic of family law.

Alameda County Divorce Forms

All divorce forms for Alameda divorce courts are accessible from the judicial council website under the family law- dissolution/legal separation/annulment option. The forms differ slightly for both types of divorce. They may also vary based on whether you’re pursuing a partially online divorce.

Keep in mind that if you make any mistakes on your paperwork, you’ll need to make amendments to divorce forms and files for divorce. This can elongate the process and result in extra fees. If that sounds like a hassle, consider using A People’s Choice to help you with your paperwork.

Uncontested Divorce Forms in Alameda County

If you need an uncontested divorce, here are the divorce forms that you need to file:

  1. Petition for Divorce (FL- 100): This outlines the reason behind your divorce proceedings. Whether it’s incurable insanity or any major differences that you cannot settle, the document should accurately present that.
  2. Summons (FL – 110): This does the simple task of informing your spouse that “Hey! This is happening. I’m filing for a divorce.”
  3. Declaration Under Uniform Child Custody (FL -105) : The divorce process requires you to state your current custody arrangement if you have children.
  4. Child Custody and Visitation Application Attachment (FL – 311): Unlike the previous custody form, this document proposes a custody visitation arrangement between you and your spouse.
  5. Marital Settlement Agreement: No marital annulment is possible without the indication of how you intend to handle assets and other property you’ve acquired during the marriage.

Contested Divorce Forms in Alameda County

A contested divorce is quite complicated. The forms you’ll need besides the ones above are:

  1. Request for Status Conference to Set Case for Trial Form (FL-050) : This presents your request to settle your case in the court through a Status Conference hearing.
  2. Status Conference Questionnaire Form (FL- 041):  This outlines a thoroughly documented explanation of your issues (those that you agree on and those that you don’t) after you fail to solve your issues in your first status conference hearing.
  3. Judgment Form (FL -180): This contains the orders for your custody, child support, property division, and attorney fees.
  4. Two addressed stamped envelopes with your court’s return address: One should have your address, and the other should bear your spouses’ address.

If you have kids, you may also need other forms. These can include:

  • FL-340 child custody form
  • Petition for custody and support of minor

Alameda County Divorce Filing Fees

Wondering about Alameda County Superior Court court fees? Fun fact: you’re obliged to pay an initial court filing fee of approximately $435 if you petition for a divorce. The exact fee varies from person to person depending on additional individual court services, but it’s standard throughout California.

The court filing fee is mandatory for any divorce case and due to the Alameda County Clerk-Recorder’s office when you file. However, here is the relief: if you cannot afford the filing fee, you can apply for a fee waiver to lower that amount. You can request a fee waiver by filling out and submitting a fee waiver form. 

Keep in mind that there are other filing fees, such as process server fees, that you’ll need to budget for as well. It all depends on the scope of your divorce.

How to File for Divorce in Alameda County: Do I Need a Lawyer?

An accomplished divorce lawyer can be of great help to see you protect your rights and help you with your divorce paperwork. The information that you put into the divorce forms highly affect the outcome of the divorce judgment. Therefore, a professional lawyer familiar with Alameda Superior Court’s processes can help you confirm that the information is correct.

A lawyer can also help you navigate the ins and outs of family code that the average person isn’t aware of, including additional court services and requests regarding marital property. However, money can be an issue here. Lawyers are not known for affordable prices; they are notoriously expensive. Even average prices for a divorce lawyer are thousands of dollars. Plus, attorney availability can vary even during business hours.

If your case is not very complex, you may be able to handle the case DIY. Check out a self-help book, have a family law facilitator help you, or hire a legal document preparer service like a People’s Choice for the assistance of professionals sans the regular legal fees.

How to File for Divorce in Alameda County with A People’s Choice

Divorce can be hassle-free if you can find a legal document assistant to help you navigate the process. If you don’t feel like spending huge wads of cash on an expensive divorce lawyer and you’re not confident about a complete DIY divorce, consider using a legal document preparer service.

A People’s Choice can help you navigate how to file for divorce in Alameda County far better than a court’s self-help center. We cannot give legal advice, but we can help you get all your forms filled out completely and correctly, thus making the divorce process much easier for all involved. Our modest average prices can save you thousands of dollars while still getting accurate and complete forms. Contact us today to get one step closer to finalizing your divorce.