What Paperwork Do I Need To Get A Divorce in California?

Preparing for a divorce will most likely be one of the more difficult times in your life. Even when both parties are in agreement, there is a lot of paperwork to complete. It is essential to get as much support and legal advice regarding the divorce proceedings as you can. Knowledge is power, and it prepares you for the long-term future and affects your life for years to come.

Getting a divorce is legally, financially, mentally, and emotionally challenging. Fortunately, there are options when filing for a divorce. You can do it all on your own or hire a divorce attorney for representation. Either way, you have to prepare legal documents or find a support service specializing in divorce services to help you.

You can save yourself time and money by gathering necessary legal and financial documents together before meeting with an attorney. Whether you are planning on doing it on your own or hiring a divorce lawyer, having a legal expert complete your paperwork will save you an enormous amount of stress and time.

At Valley Divorce Services, we have many years of experience helping clients such as yourself navigate the complexities of legal paperwork. Today, we will explain to you the necessary forms and documents to prepare when filing for a divorce in California. 

Form #1. Dissolution of Marriage Petition

A dissolution of marriage petition is the first form you need to complete to start a divorce. This form includes the name of both parties, the county you reside in, and the grounds for divorce. There is a filing fee —  however, you may get it waived if you qualify.

A summons will then notify your spouse, the respondent, that you have filed for divorce, either by mail or in-person, depending on the state’s laws. The court sets a date by which a response is allowed by the defendant; however, If you and your partner file jointly, there will be no summons.

Form #2. A Settlement Agreement

In an uncontested divorce, both parties must agree upon all issues before finalizing the divorce. These issues include alimony, child support and custody, dividing debts and assets, and whether or not to get a divorce.

A contested divorce means that one or both parties disagree on one or more of the issues. A mediator is helpful if both parties can’t reach an agreement on their own or with a lawyer.

The aforementioned written agreement is known as a settlement agreement. Both parties will sign it as part of the divorce and file it with the court. When the divorce is final, the settlement agreement is part of the court’s order.

Form #3. A Financial Affidavit

The financial affidavit lists your income, cash and cash equivalents, properties, expenses, and debts and is a sworn document that both you and your spouse must provide. The judge uses this information to determine child and spousal support, divide up property, and award attorney fees.

Be as accurate as possible when filling out these forms, as you may have to go through them in court. It is highly recommended that you sit down with a legal document services expert to ensure that all paperwork is complete and legally sound before submitting it.

Form #4. A Parenting Plan

In a California divorce that involves children, you are required to have a parenting plan. It will be your guide for handling significant decisions as well as everyday life after your divorce. This plan will be the schedule for when the children will be with each parent. It says who will pay for things like soccer lessons, college tuition, medical care, etc. It covers vacations, medical emergencies, and decisions about education and religion as well.

Typically parenting plans follow a standard format. Ideally, you and your ex will agree on a plan that makes sense for your family. The parenting plan is part of the final divorce decree.

Let Valley Divorce Services Help You Get Started

You can get all of the forms from your county clerk’s office, or you may be able to download them from their website. Depending on the complexity of your divorce, there may be additional paperwork needed. Each county is a little different, so make sure you check local requirements.

With over 20 years of legal experience at Valley Divorce Services, our legal document assistants (LDAs) provide self-representing litigants with legal documentation assistance. We can perform the following legal document services for you in connection with a legal matter in which you are representing yourself:

  • We can type or otherwise complete, as you specifically direct, legal documents that you have selected;
  • We can provide you general published factual legal information that has been written or approved by an attorney to help you represent yourself;
  • We can provide you published legal documents;
  • We can file and serve legal forms and documents as you specifically direct;
  • We can work in conjunction with limited-scope representation between lawyers and clients.

Request a free legal consultation today for more information on how we can help you plan for your future.