• How to Finish a Divorce in California

How to Finish a Divorce in California

The are several legal documents you must file to finish your divorce in California. The legal documents you will have to complete in the California divorce process will depend on whether or not your spouse filed a response to the Petition. Unfortunately there are many forms and the process gets very complicated when dealing with issues of child custody, support and visitation and/or the division or assets and debts. Below is an overview on how you should proceed in finalizing your divorce in the event your spouse did or did not file a response. Read on to learn more about how to finish a divorce in California.

How to Finish a Divorce in California When Respondent Did Not File a Response

If the Respondent failed to file a response to the petition for divorce, then you have a “true default.” This means that it has been more than 30 days since the petitioner served the petition and summons. The respondent must not have filed a response and there must be no written agreement.

When assessing how to finish a divorce in California, there are a variety of considerations that determine what documentation will be required by the court. In order to finish your divorce, you may need some or all the following forms, depending on your circumstances, to get a California divorce judgment:

If you seek to obtain a custody order, you must complete the following applicable forms:

If you seek to obtain child support, you must complete the following applicable forms:

  • Child Support Information and Order Attachment (Form FL-342)
  • Income and Expense Declaration (Form FL-150) or a Financial Statement (Simplified) (Form FL-155)
  • Child Support Case Registry Form (Form FL-191)
  • Notice of Rights and Responsibilities — Health-Care Costs and Reimbursement Procedures and Information Sheet on Changing a Child Support Order (Form FL-192)
  • Income Withholding for Support (Form FL-195)

If you seek to obtain a spousal support order, you must complete the following applicable forms:

  • Spousal or Partner Support Declaration Attachment (Form FL-157)
  • Spousal, Partner, or Family Support Order Attachment (Form FL-343)
  • Income and Expense Declaration (Form FL-150)
  • Earnings Assignment Order for Spousal or Partner Support (Form FL-435)

If you seek to obtain an order to divide community property,  you must complete the applicable following forms:

In order to finish a true default divorce in California, complete the required forms above and make at least 2 copies of the forms. The original forms will be served with the court and the remaining copy served on the Respondent. Make sure you file your Proof of Service of Summons and Declaration Regarding Service of Declaration of Disclosure. If your judgment documents are properly completed, the judge will sign the Judgment without either spouse having to appear. The court clerk will mail the Judgment and Notice of Entry of Judgment to each party.

How to Finish a Divorce When Respondent Filed Response & Both Parties Have Reached a Mutual Agreement

If your divorce is uncontested, meaning all issues are settled among the parties, finalize your agreement and complete the above applicable forms necessary to finish your California divorce. Since the Respondent filed a Response, the court will require both parties to sign and file an Appearance, Stipulation and Waiver (Form Fl-130) along with a Stipulation and Waiver of Final Declaration of Disclosure (Form FL-144).  Respondent will also need to complete and file their Declaration Re Service of Disclosure. In lieu of using the many attachment to Judgment forms, most courts will simply allow you to attach a copy of your Marital Settlement Agreement to the Judgment. Follow the same process described above in serving all original documents with the court and copies on the respondent.

How to Finish a Divorce When Respondent Filed Response & Both Parties Failed to Reach a Mutual Agreement

If both parties have failed to reach a mutual agreement, your contested case will need to go to trial. You will be required to attend a settlement conference before trial. You will have to file a request for a trial. A pre-trial statement must be served on the respondent summarizing all pending issues. Also, prepare a witness list and final disclosures to serve on the respondent. Each party will be required to prepare a brief and present evidence at trial. A judgment form and the notice of entry of judgment form will need to be completed and filed with the court. The divorce will be final upon the judge signing the judgment.

People trying to get through divorce on their own often call our office for help once they have reached the “Judgment Phase” of the process. This is due to the many forms required by the court to complete a California divorce. Courts have specific requirements to approve a divorce Judgment. If the Judgment does not meet those requirements, it will reject a Judgment multiple times until it is correct. As you can see, preparing a divorce Judgment gets very complicated when dealing with issues of child custody, support and visitation and/or the division or assets and debts. Eliminate having your divorce Judgment rejected. Contact A People’s Choice for divorce document help and information on how to finish a divorce in California. Call 800-747-2780 and speak with one of our experienced staff.

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By |2018-01-18T15:46:55-07:00April 27th, 2016|Family Law|4 Comments

About the Author:

Sandra M. McCarthy, founder of A People’s Choice Inc., has worked exclusively in the legal field since 1976. She served as the 2004-2005 President of CALDA (California Association of Legal Document Assistants). She obtained a Paralegal Certificate from the University of California, Santa Barbara. During her career in the legal field, she has worked as a freelance paralegal, law office manager and paralegal studies teacher, and has co-authored numerous legal publications and written hundreds of self-help legal articles. As a registered Legal Document Assistant, Sandy is dedicated to providing affordable, low-cost, self-help document preparation services for California consumers in all 58 counties.


  1. Chris Reid September 15, 2017 at 2:29 am

    Signing the papers is definitely just the beginning of a divorce. Being prepared for each facet of your own divorce is important. Without having the proper documents ready, a divorce can be prolonged. These tips are great for not only being prepared but expediting the process as well.

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  3. Marybell February 10, 2017 at 3:31 am

    Hi my name marybell i started filling a divorce in 2014 never was able to finsh last part of the divorce i won full custody of my two boys i make 1,720 before tax come out i wanted to know if you guys could help me finsh divorce?

    • Sandy McCarthy February 10, 2017 at 3:33 am

      Hi Marybell – we can absolutely help you finish your divorce! Please call the office in the morning at 800-747-2780 so we can get your case number and look at the court docket.

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