(559) 500-3490


How do I file for divorce?

How do I file for divorce?

How Do I File For Divorce?

(In California)

Step 1:

Make sure you and your spouse are actually done in your relationship.  Many times you may be thinking that the marriage is done and want to get a divorce, but then find yourself back with your spouse.

You do not want to be in a situation where you have opened up a case and invested a lot of time on documents and filings only to realize that you do not want to get a divorce.

If you know for sure that your relationship is over then you will want to proceed to step 2.

Step 2:

You will need to figure out your date of separation.  When did you and your spouse finally decide that it was over? This question is really important. On many occasions when spouses decide the relationship is done it is usually on bad terms.  There may be a lack of respect in the relationship.

You certainly do not want to be left cleaning up the financial mess that is being created by your spouse.  Having an accurate date of separation will ensure that you are not responsible for anything that your spouse does from the moment you two called it quits.

You and your spouse may not agree with the date of this separation.  One person can feel that the relationship was still alive, while the other one has clearly moved on.  If one of the spouses moves out of the house – the move out date would be a clear indication of the date of separation.  However, many couples decide to live together during a “separation”.  This is mostly done for financial reasons.

Think back at your relationship and try to think of the day you knew it was time to go in a new direction.

Step 3:

Your next step is to obtain the proper forms.  In California you are going to want to start with the FL-100 form.  This is the Dissolution of Marriage Petition.  In other words this is your opening request for the court to order a divorce.

The next form you will need is the FL-110 form.   This is the Summons.  In other words – this is the form that will be given to your spouse to invite them to your divorce.  This form will tell your spouse that a divorce has been filed by you and they will possibly need to file legal documents and go to Court.

There are hundreds of Divorce forms that are available to use during your divorce.  However, you will need to use the two above forms in all divorces.

Step 4: 

You will need to file the two above forms in the Superior Court where you’re divorce will be held.  The filing fee is $435.

Which Court should your divorce be in?  That depends on where you and your spouse have been living the last 6 months.  If you and your spouse have lived in California for the last 6 months then you will file in California.  But in which county?

You will file in the county that you and your spouse lived in for the last 3 months.

For example if you lived in Tulare county for 5 months then moved to Fresno County for 4 months; you will file your divorce in Fresno County.

Step 5: 

You will need to give (serve) these documents to your spouse.  You can not personally serve the documents.  It is best that you find a process server to serve these documents for you so that it is done properly.  The fee to have documents served in California is usually $50.

Step 6: 

You will be sent to mediation by the court to see if you and your spouse can reach an agreement.  If you can reach an agreement – you are done.  You will sign the agreement with the court and you can now start your new life.

Step 7: 

However, if you and your spouse can not reach an agreement you will have to fight (litigate) your case.  A trial could be held where a judge will make a final decision on your divorce.  The judge will decide what will happen to your money, property, and personal belongings.

Be prepared to do legal research and file the proper motions with the court in order to continue fighting (litigating) your case.  You may ultimately have a trial where you will need to act as your own attorney.  You will need to prepare yourself with the rules of evidence and how to conduct a trial.

Your spouse could hire an attorney to fight (litigate) the case against you.  The court will not appoint an attorney for you.  You will have to represent yourself.  Your other option is to hire an attorney for yourself to equal the playing field.

Browse the “Divorce and Custody” section for more helpful tips.


3 Comments - Leave a Comment
  • Jessica Avila -

    How do I get an extension from the judge so I have time to hire a lawyer. My husband doesn’t want the divorce and I am worried he will try to drag this out. By the way thanks for helping my cousin Santos. 🙂

  • Leave a comment

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *