If you’re ready to end your marriage, you’re probably wondering how to file for divorce and how the whole process works.
So how do you file for divorce?
For most people, it makes sense to work with a lawyer who understands the ins and outs of California divorce law – including child custody, spousal support, and property division. First, you need to know that you don’t need to prove fault in a divorce, and your spouse doesn’t have to give you permission to divorce (or even agree with you that you should divorce).
To file for divorce, you must have lived in California for six months and in San Joaquin County for at least three months.
How to File for Divorce: The Process
You can start by talking to your attorney about what you expect from your divorce. She’ll ask you about:
- Where your kids will be better off living
- How much you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse make (to get an idea about child support and spousal support)
- What kind of property and debt you and your spouse share
That’s the first step in filing for divorce. Formally, your attorney will file the appropriate forms with the court that start the official process. The forms she’ll have to fill out include a petition for divorce, as well as a property declaration and paperwork about child custody and visitation. Your attorney will make sure she has the correct information for these forms by speaking with you – you won’t have to fill them out yourself. Each of these forms has to be filed with the court clerk, who will take originals and give your attorney copies with a stamp that says “Filed.”
From there, you must tell your spouse you’ve started the legal process of divorce – but you don’t have to call him or her on the phone to do so. Instead, your attorney will arrange to have your spouse “served,” which means someone will give him or her the papers stating you’ve filed for divorce. You can’t be the person who gives the paperwork to your spouse; it must be a friend, relative, a county sheriff or a process server. If the papers can’t be served in person, they can be served by mail under very specific circumstances.
If you have children and child support will be a factor in your case, the appropriate forms also have to be filed with the local child support agency.
You have to wait 30 days for the other party to respond to the petition for divorce. Then, your lawyer can ask the court for temporary orders regarding child custody and visitation, child support, or spousal support.
Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About How to File for Divorce?
If you’re divorcing your spouse, you can let an attorney handle all the paperwork for you and answer all your questions about the process. Your lawyer can also refer you to a therapist, give you case-specific legal advice and more.
Call us at 209-910-9865 or contact us online to schedule an appointment with an attorney. We may be able to help you.