How to Get a Divorce

There are all kinds of resources on how to get married. But when it comes to ending a marriage, the process is mired with confusion.  This article will show you how to get a divorce in California.

The first step in getting a divorce is filing the Petition. This is a simple two page form that asks for basic data about your residence, statistical facts about your marriage, declaration about minor children, statement of separate property, basis for the action, and orders about child custody, child support, and spousal support. This document must be served on the other party along with a Summons and a blank Response.

The person who serves the Petition first becomes the Petitioner and the other party is the Respondent. In 99 percent of cases, it does not matter who is the Petitioner and who is the Respondent — they are treated equally in court. However, when the two parties live in different counties, states, or countries, it can make a great deal of difference who serves first because that will determine jurisdiction. One party must be a resident of the county for at least six months prior to filing the Petition.

After being served with the Petition, the Respondent has 30 days to file his or her Response. This form mirrors the Petition.

How to Get A Divorce: What to Do After the First Papers are Filed

At some point, a Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure must be filed with the Court by both the Petitioner and Respondent. This certifies that you have filled out and served the Schedule of Assets and Debts and the Income and Expense Declaration on the opposing party.

If you need Court Orders prior to the final Judgment (and in many cases you will), then you will need to file an Order to Show Cause. This can be about Child Custody, Child Support, Spousal Support, Property Issues, etc. At a minimum, an Order to Show Cause requires a form and a Declaration which is a written statement supporting your request. A Memorandum of Points and Authorities is also useful. The Memorandum outlines the legal basis for the Order from statutes and case law. There will be a hearing in front of the Judge who will rule on your Order to Show Cause. In many cases, you will have multiple Order to Show Cause hearings to determine a number of issues as the case evolves.

How to get a divorce
How to get a divorce

At some point, you will be able to wrap the case up and have a final Judgment. This means that all of the issues are resolved. However, unlike other civil cases, a final Judgment does not mean that you will never revisit the issues in the case. As long as you have minor children or support issues, either party can file an Order to Show Cause at any time.

That’s the bare bones guide to how to get a divorce, but there are so many issues in family law that one page wouldn’t suffice. That’s why you need to explore the relevant links on this website to find out the general answers to your questions. Then, if you have specific questions, you can email them to me via my Ask Julian Anything form on the right or call me at 877-369-5294 and set up an appointment for a consultation either in my Riverside family law office or over the phone. I give free consultations to anyone who books an appointment with me off my website.