California Divorce Process in 3 Simple Steps

Disclaimer! The contents of this video and on this webpage provides a general overview.  The material in this video and on this webpage are for educational purposes only, is not tailored to address your specific needs, and does not constitute legal advice. The information/answers we provide in this video or on this webpage are not specific to your case as we do not know your case facts. Do not rely on any information presented on this webpage to make decisions regarding your California divorce. Again, the information presented herein is not legal advice. Consult with an attorney to obtain legal advice about your divorce.

Here is an overview on the uncontested/default divorce process. Review the entire post to better understand the overall divorce process in California.

Step 1: File for & Respond to the Divorce

The first step in the California divorce process is to determine whether you meet the residency requirements and finding out which court to file your divorce documents. Either spouse must have resided in California for at least six months before filling for divorce. In addition, either spouse must have resided in the County in which the divorce has been filed for at least 3 months before submitting the petition. Visit your county’s superior court website to find out where to file your divorce forms (there are lessons in this course on how to accomplish this task).

The petitioner must prepare the following forms to begin the divorce process:

  • FL 100 Petition for Dissolution of Marriage This form is used to officially request a divorce in California. The petitioner provides background information about the marriage, the grounds for divorce, and the proposed community and separate property division.
  • FL 105 Declaration Under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction & Enforcement Act:  This form must be completed if you have minor children.  Use this form to  identify the children of the marriage, discuss current and prior custody arrangements, and disclose whether any restraining orders have ever been issued.
  • FL 110 Summons – This form tells the respondent (spouse who will respond to the petition) that a lawsuit has been filed against him/her (the divorce). This form details the mandatory restraining orders in which both parties must abide by throughout the duration of the divorce.
  • FL 160 Petitioner’s Community and Quasi Community Property Declaration:This form is filed in connection with a default judgment so the court can evaluate the property and debt issues of the divorce.
  • FL 115 Proof of Service of Summons:This form tells the court that you served the respondent with the divorce petition and court summons.
  • FL 117 Notice & Acknowledgment of Receipt: This form is used for the respondent to confirm receipt of FL 100 and FL 110 by mail.
  • FL 311 Child Custody & Visitation Application Attachment – This form is used to provide details about child custody and the visitation schedule.
  • Local Court Forms – Check your county’s Superior Court website to see which local forms must be submitted along with your divorce petition. Common forms include venue verification. This form may need to be completed to confirm you have filed your petition with the right local court.

Though there is no statutory deadline to serve the filed summons and petition for dissolution on the respondent, it should be done within sixty days of filling the petition. You have 60 days (days counted from the date you filed the petition and summons with the court) to serve your spouse with financial disclosures (see step 2) . You must serve the documents sooner if you have a court hearing (example – Family Resolution Conference) before the 60 day period. Hire a process server to serve the divorce documents on your spouse. Once the initial process service is completed on the respondent, the petitioner can subsequently provide the respondent with notice of filed documents by mail (FL 335).

The respondent must complete the following forms to file a response with the court within 30 days of being served with the divorce papers (example- petition for dissolution and summons):

If the respondent fails to file a response within thirty calendar days of being served with process, amend your petition (FL-100) and incorporate FL 160 to it (the lesson on FL 100 will show you how to complete this task). 

Step 2: Complete Financial Disclosures within 60 Days of Filling Petition/Response w/Court

Completing the financial disclosures can take one to two weeks. Both parties will need to list the community property assets and debts on the forms below. In addition, they will need to work out an agreement on the division of assets and debts. Parties should attend mediation if they have any issues in reaching a settlement. Parties should also discuss child custody, child support, the division of retirement and investments, and spousal support issues during this time.

The following financial disclosures must be served on the respondent when completing a Default divorce (respondent fails to file a response within 30 days of receiving service):

The following financial disclosures must be served on the respondent when completing an uncontested divorce (the respondent must also serve these documents on the petitioner):

**Waiver of final disclosures can be requested in a default or uncontested divorce. Preliminary disclosures cannot be waived in a default divorce.

Again, the petitioner has 60 days from the date the divorce petition and summons is filed with the court to serve the respondent with financial disclosures. The respondent has 60 days to serve the petitioner with financial disclosures once his/her response is filed with the court.

Step 3: Prepare the Final Judgment Documents 

The final step in the California divorce process once financial disclosures are completed is to prepare the final judgment documents. It can take one to two weeks to complete these documents.

The parties must complete the following forms to obtain a default divorce judgment:

The parties must complete the following forms to obtain an uncontested divorce judgment:

There is a lot of information provided in this post. Contact us at if you have any questions about completing the paperwork for your divorce.

How to Avoid Going Into Debt During a California Divorce

SD Esquire Flat Fee Divorce Service

SD Esquire provides flat fee uncontested divorce services. We will prepare the legal documents you need to file for and complete your divorce.  This includes preparing and filling your divorce petition, completing your financial disclsoures, and drafting your marital settlement agreement (MSA). Our uncontested flat fee divorce service starts at $1500 for standard divorce (you are responsible for paying court filling fees).  The fee also includes service of process fees. You can make installment payments as your case progresses. It costs $500 to start your matter. Sign up today to get started.

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