California divorce papers
California divorce papers can be a frustrating waste of time if you are doing it without help of professionals. Delays may result from filing forms incorrectly to not filing the appropriate papers. This guide will show you the paperwork and procedure of carrying out your divorce at the beginning of the process.
In order to start your divorce process, you must complete the required divorce papers. Although California divorce papers start almost the same at the beginning, you will use different forms for a contested than an uncontested divorce. These papers are available online from the California Courts Website.
While there are basic California divorce papers that are required by all courts in the state, county courthouses may require you to fill additional forms. So, ensure you get in touch with your local courthouse by phone to double-check that you are filling all the correct documents as defined by your court.
California Divorce Papers and Forms
At the beginning of the divorce process, the California divorce papers and forms you will need include;
- Family Law Form FL-100 – This form provides pertinent information about your marriage. This is usually the first form in the divorce process.
- Family Law Form FL-110 -This is the summons form used to inform the spouse that the divorce process has commenced.
- Family Law Form FL-115- Also called the Proof of Service of Summons, this is to show the court that you have informed your spouse of the proceedings
- Family Law Form FL-105/GC-120 – It is only filled by spouses who have children.
There are additional documents you will be required to fill out regarding your property, child custody, and other essential information. These forms must be filled appropriately to avoid delays in the process.
Filing Divorce Papers in California
Once you complete filling the divorce papers, you can then submit them at your local courthouse.
You will be required to pay fees to file your divorce papers with the clerk’s office in California. However, if you can’t afford these fees, you will have to complete a Request to Waive Court Fees. The court will review your request and determine whether to approve the waiver or not.
Once you have provided all forms and paid the court fees in full, the clerk of court will stamp the documents and provide you with the copies. If your spouse is not present during filing, you will need to serve them with a copy of these stamped California divorce papers immediately after leaving the court.
How to Serve California Divorce Papers
After filing your forms with the courthouse, you need to serve your spouse with copies of all the documents immediately. Serving your spouse is a requirement by the United States legal system to notify the defendant of what is going on and to allow them to appear in court to argue their case.
If your spouse has hired an attorney, you can serve the lawyer directly at the lawyer’s office. If not, there are several ways acceptable to serve divorce papers in California. These methods are:
(i) County Sheriff
You can have the county sheriff serve your spouse at a fee. For the most part, this is the best way to serve spouses that are not cooperative.
(ii) By mail
If you are dealing with a cooperative spouse, service by mail is the easiest method to serve your spouse. According to Family Law Form FL-117, you will be required to include a Notice and Acknowledgement of Receipt for your spouse to complete and return to you. You will then file it with the court to verify that you have served your spouse.
(iii) Professional process server
You can hire the services of a professional process server to serve California divorce papers to your spouse.
(iv) Close friend or relative
You can have a friend or relative who is above 18 years to hand-deliver the service documents.
California courts may also offer different rules if you are serving divorce papers to spouses who are challenging to locate, for instance, those in jail. You can check with the clerk of your court to understand what to do in case of such scenarios.
Once you have filed and served your spouse with all the divorce papers, the divorce process and California divorce papers could be different depending whether it is contested or uncontested divorce.
If you have an uncontested divorce your spouse does not necessarily need to response to your petition. If you and your spouse have contested issues, you can either mediate and convert your divorce into uncontested or go to the litigation and let the judge decide your disagreement.
There are some different ways to proceed with your California divorce papers during your contested divorce and it would depend on the circumstances of your case.
Divorce is emotionally draining, but let us make your legal process simple and handle your paperwork with ease for you.
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