For many people, marriage turns out to be far from heartwarming. The challenges can prove too burdensome to bear, and residents of Martinez, Concord, Walnut Creek, and other surrounding cities might find themselves Googling, “How to file for divorce in Contra Costa County.” Take, for example, the story of the dissolution between the best-selling author Terry McMillan and Jonathan Plummer. Their once-happy wedding date turned into a $40 million lawsuit and restraining order applications that took place before California’s Contra Costa Superior Court.

There are many reasons for divorce, and sometimes they result in a long and painful drama. You surely don’t want for yourself regardless of why your marriage has come to an end. If you need to know how to file for divorce in Contra Costa County, you’ve come to the right place. This article can help you prepare for the divorce process so you know what to expect.

Reasons for Divorce in California

Whenever you hear somebody’s getting a divorce, the first question that often comes to mind is: whose fault is it? It can be hard to even imagine quantifying the reasons for divorce on a piece of paper, especially when strangers will be reviewing your divorce paperwork.

However, if you are filing for divorce in Contra Costa County, there’s good news! California divorce laws work on a liberal no-fault state principle. This means that the parties to a divorce are not obliged to specify or to prove any wrongdoing when choosing a divorce option. This can save a lot of finger-pointing when filling out divorce forms.

The State of California provides only the following two legal grounds for divorce. Let’s quickly go over them.

how to file for divorce in Contra Costa County

Contra Costa County Divorce Reason 1: Irreconcilable Differences

To get a divorce in California, it is enough to state that your marriage simply isn’t working. The Contra Costa Court won’t ask you to testify on the reasons why it’s not working or to provide evidence to such claims.

Contra Costa County Divorce Reason 2: Permanent Legal Incapacity

Permanent legal incapacity, or “incurable insanity,” is a second legal ground under which a marriage can be dissolved. It is a tough one. As such, only the rare divorce judgment operates under this process.
To see this one through, you have to prove that your spouse is lacking legal capacity. This means that the court must assess all the circumstances of the case, order a medical expertise assessment to determine if your spouse is capable of making decisions, and schedule court hearings to hear the testimonies of the witnesses.

Types of Processes

What if you decide there are no alternatives to divorce, and you must initiate a divorce due to irreconcilable differences? There is key information you need to quickly get through a no-fault divorce in California.

When deciding which process type to choose, based on the circumstances of your case, you can decide to file for a (i) summary dissolution or a (ii) divorce.

Summary Dissolution

If you and your spouse are both open to a friendly divorce, you should consider jointly filing for a summary dissolution process. To be able to make a valid and grounded motion for summary dissolution, the spouses must have a solid understanding and agreement on key issues, such as division of assets and child custody. This absolutely won’t work if you expect combative divorce proceedings.

Such cases also have to meet financial and other general prerequisites in order to be eligible. For more details, check out our article on summary dissolution. If it’s a go, you can get through the process of divorce in six months!


If your case does not meet the summary dissolution criteria, you can always end your marriage in a standard divorce. During this process, a judge reviews your case at a trial. Both parties are expected to participate in the process and have a chance to make your case before the court.

Hopefully, you can reach an amicable divorce with your spouse. Depending on the level of commitment and participation of your spouse, you can end up with a contested divorce (both parties actively participate in the process) or an uncontested divorce (one side is passive; this is also known as a default divorce).

Contra Costa County Divorce Court

how to file for divorce in Contra Costa County

Before you decide to submit your case to the Contra Costa Court, you first need to make sure that your case fits the residence criteria. For a case to be eligible to Contra Costa Court jurisdiction, you must fit the following:

  •  At least one of the spouses must have lived in Contra Costa County for three or more months
  •  At least one of the spouses must have lived in CA for 6 months or more

Assuming you meet that criteria, you’re ready to start the process of divorce in Contra Costa County! If your papers aren’t covered in this section, here is some more info on relevant divorce papers.

Divorce Forms in Contra Costa County

When filing for a divorce, especially if you’re representing yourself without the assistance of a professional attorney, you need to make sure you’ve prepared all the relevant documents. Messing up certified copies of divorce papers, failing to provide the correct custom-made document, or failing to file the correct paperwork can make for a complicated divorce. To prepare your case, you will need the following papers.

Initiation Papers

These are the original forms you need to start the online divorce or in-person divorce process.

Declaration of Disclosure: This serves as a cover sheet that lists all attachments, including the initial disclosure.

Divorce Petition: This form is the first step in a divorce—the form by which you initiate the process.

Proof of Delivery

Part of the divorce process involves having certified copies of documents about the divorce served to your spouse (this is part of their legal rights). This paperwork is associated with that part of the process.

Summons: This is a form your spouse receives to inform that the divorce has been filed.

Proof of Service Summons: This is the form by which you prove that the divorce petition was served to your spouse.

Property and Financial Papers

A major part of a divorce judgment is marital property and how it is divided. If you have personal property, separate property, real property (real estate), or more, this is the paperwork that covers it.

Property Declaration: In this form, you must specify all relevant assets, claims, and debts to be discussed and divided in a divorce. You may be able to withhold separate property pursuant to the law.

Income and Expense Declaration: Here you’ll be required to specify your relevant financial information.

Schedule of Assets and Debts OR Property Declaration: You are free to choose either one of these forms regarding marital property pursuant to the divorce.

Declaration Regarding Service of Declaration of Disclosure: This is the financial disclosure-related document regarding marital or personal property.

Custody and Support for Minor Children

Divorce gets a lot more complicated when minor children are involved. There are conditions for child custody and visitation, the child support process for dependent children, and more to consider. This paperwork deals with that aspect of your divorce judgment.

Declaration Under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act: Here you’ll be required to specify your position on custody and child support.

Child Custody Visitation Application: This is an optional form that specifies the desired dynamics of child visitation. It sometimes comes into play if there are child custody issues.

Contra Costa Superior Court Details

To get a divorce, you’ll need to know where the courthouse is. This is how you can send your initial paperwork to the county clerk:

Mail: You’ll need to send a self-addressed and stamped envelope to Contra Costa Superior Court, 725 Court St, Martinez, CA 94553.

DropBox or in person: You can do this in the Spinetta Family Law Center. If you want to enter, you’ll need to go on business days within business hours.

Wondering how much this is going to cost you? The divorce and marriage dissolution cost in Contra Costa is subject to payment of the filing fee. The average price is $435, but the cost of divorce varies since there are other chargeable services that can apply. You can see the breakdown of the fees on the Contra Costa Court website.

Do I Need a Divorce Lawyer?

Unless your Costa County marriage dissolution is particularly complex, you don’t need to pay a divorce lawyer. Even though divorce can be emotionally distressing, the California divorce process is designed in a way that you can represent yourself. You just need a proper online tool to help you with the county forms and documents so you don’t miss out on procedural details.

Keep in mind that DIY is best left to divorces with basic steps. if your case could lead to complex lawsuits and processes regarding child custody or division of assets, then it might be time to look into attorney availability and cough up the additional service fee.

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

Are you trying to avoid costly attorney fees as you work to get your marriage record dissolved? Get a reliable alternative service to help you with the preparation of the divorce papers! Getting your paperwork prepared comprehensively and correctly can reduce the completion time of your divorce and make the whole process easier.

A People’s Choice online divorce document assistance service is here to help make divorce painless, quick, and sans budget-consuming attorney fees. You can use comprehensive, affordable online divorce document services ranging from $250 to $624 to take care of your paperwork. Check out our blog for more divorce info if you still have a couple of questions, or contact us today to get started on your DIY divorce or other civil actions!