Getting a divorce in California is complicated. As a result, the process can be lengthy, even when the parties agree. Some couples end up feeling as though they will never finish divorce in California and remain forever married. No matter what, there is always a minimum six-month waiting period before the divorce can be final, and the parties declared single. The final Judgment comes after the settlement, which covers property division, spousal support, and child custody and support. All in all, the divorce process can take a long time, particularly if you are trying to complete it on your own, without professional help.

What our Clients Say...
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Get help to Finish a Divorce in California!


…or continue reading the article below to learn more about how to finish divorce in California.

Types of Divorce in California

There are three basic types of divorces in California. They are:

  • default
  • uncontested
  • contested

Each type has different requirements to finish divorce in California. A People’s Choice can help you navigate this long and emotional process. Do not unnecessarily extend being able to finish divorce in California by overlooking a critical deadline or document. People trying to divorce often experience delays because they do not prepare the Judgment correctly.  A People’s Choice can keep your case on track, help you file the right paperwork, and finish divorce in California as quickly as possible.

Finishing a Divorce in Default

There are many steps required and a specific timeline within which to finish divorce in California.  If a spouse does not file a Response to a divorce filing, the divorce can go into default. Keep in mind, default does not happen automatically. To put it differently, you must take action to proceed with a true default of the case. If you file for divorce and do not get a response, you may ask for a default judgment. Although default judgments tend to be one-sided, the court will make sure the Judgment is fair. To file a default judgment, you will need:

  • Request to Enter Default (FL-165)
  • Declaration for Default or Uncontested Dissolution or Legal Separation (FL-170)
  • Judgment (FL-180)
  • Judgment Attachments
  • Notice of Entry of Judgment (FL-190).

The court requires additional forms attached to the Judgment for child custody orders, child support, spousal support, and for the division of community property.  You can find some of the required forms here.  The filing spouse must serve all forms filed on the non-filing spouse.  After the filing spouse serves the required documents, the court enters a judgment and mails a copy of the judgment to both spouses.

Uncontested Divorce Settlements

Your divorce is uncontested if you and your spouse can work out a written settlement showing you both settle and agree to all the issues. Once you agree, both parties sign a formal Marital Settlement Agreement which you can attach to the Judgment. Make sure you notarize this agreement before you file it with the court. Also, make sure the agreement contains all of the required legal clauses when addressing support, custody, visitation, and long-term marriages. If your agreement does not meet the language requirements, the court will reject it.

California requires the following forms in uncontested divorce:

  • Appearance, Stipulations, and Waivers (FL-130)
  • Declaration for Default or Uncontested Dissolution or Legal Separation (FL-170)
  • Judgment (FL-180)
  • Notarized Marital Settlement Agreement
  • Notice of Entry of Judgment (FL-190).

As mentioned above, the Marital Settlement Agreement is part of the Judgment. Keep in mind, if you need to cover child custody, child support, spousal support, or divisions of community property,  you will require additional forms. Each party must also file a preliminary financial disclosure. It is essential to realize that there are two required financial disclosure steps, a preliminary disclosure, and final disclosure. Fortunately, the parties may waive the final disclosure requirement if they file a Stipulation and Waiver of Final Declaration of Disclosure (FL-144).

Even though the parties agree, a judge must review the settlement agreement.  If it is fair and conforms to California law, the judge will approve it.  If not, the judge will reject it.  Once the judge approves the settlement agreement, the divorce can become final.  The court will then mail a copy of the Judgment to both spouses.

Contested Divorce Settlements

When the spouses cannot reach an agreement, they have a contested divorce. To put it differently, the case will have to go to trial. As a result, you will face a longer divorce process. Remember, there are many steps to get a divorce case to trial. Before a case can go to trial, the parties must complete discovery. At the end, when the case is ready for trial, one of the parties must file and serve a form requesting a trial date.  Within 45 days of the trial, both spouses must file these final financial disclosure forms:

  • Declaration of Disclosure (FL-140)
  • Schedule of Assets and Debts (FL-141) or a Property Declaration (FL-160)
  • Income and Expense Declaration (FL-150).

Before trial, the court requires both spouses to attend a settlement conference. If they cannot settle the case at that time, the court will set a trial date. At the trial, a judge will decide on all any remaining issues.

How to Finish Your Divorce

It can be all too easy to overlook essential deadlines or filings during a long divorce. Even the most straightforward divorce can hit bumps in the road if you don’t know what you are doing. As a result, this can unnecessarily extend the process. Don’t be discouraged if you find yourself stuck in the process. You are in the same situation as many other people we talk to. Even the most straightforward divorce can be challenging to complete. Contact A People’s Choice to learn about how we can help you finish your California divorce. Call us today at 805-648-5540.

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