How to File for a Divorce in California

At Peace Talks, an outstanding divorce mediation office, we feel it is very important that you know the California divorce family law process. Before we embark on explaining the California Family Law Court system, HOW TO FILE FOR DIVORCE IN CALIFORNIA.

At Peace Talks, an outstanding divorce mediation office, we feel it is very important that you know the California divorce family law process. Before we embark on explaining the California Family Law Court system, we want to make sure you know that going to court is not the only way to solve family law disputes. Divorce mediation at Peace Talks is an excellent alternative.

Divorce Mediation in Los Angeles and California is preferable because:
1) You will directly participate in finding solutions;
2) You will be able to resolve your dispute sooner;
3) It will be much less expensive;
4) You will end the process with a better relationship with your former spouse; and
5) It will be less stressful than court hearings.

These are all excellent reasons to choose mediation for your divorce in Los Angeles or in the state of California.

With that being said, it’s important that you are knowledgeable about the Family Law Courts and the role they play in your divorce or divorce mediation. Once you have decided that you want to get divorced either through the court method or divorce mediation, many legal forms have to be filed to begin and complete the process. If you choose to hire an attorney, that professional will file the paperwork for you after learning all of the relevant facts about your case. If you decide to do it yourself, you will need to complete the forms and file them with the court. At Peace Talks, we file these California divorce court forms for you after discussing them with you at your initial mediation session.

All the necessary California divorce forms are available online on the California Courts website (www.courts.ca.gov). The court has provided instructions and videos for every form. Most of the material is comprehensible and the information makes it easier to work through the process; however with divorce mediation at Peace Talks, we explain all the information to you in detail.

While all California courts use the same basic set of forms, there may be additional forms required based on which county you live in. When you go online and select the courthouse you will be filing in, there will be additional links and information to determine which additional forms, if any, are needed. Peace Talks suggests you avoid this potentially complicated process and choose us to file the court forms for your divorce mediation.

In order to begin the divorce process in California, you or your spouse needs to complete a Petition for Divorce Marriage/Domestic Partnership (Family Law Form FL-100). By completing the Petition, you are now the “Petitioner” or initiator of this case. Along with the Petition, you will need a Summons (Family Law Form FL-110), and Proof of Service of Summons (Family Law Form FL-115).

Divorcing in California requires a six (6) month “cooling off” period before a divorce may be finalized to prevent couples from rushing to divorce. The counting of the California six-month “cooling off” period does not begin until the Petitioner has served the Petition on the Respondent (your spouse, the responding party). While these forms come with instructions, Peace Talks’ team of divorce mediators will take the guesswork out and streamline the process for you through divorce mediation.

If you have children under the age of 18 years old, the court requires additional documents to be filed. By submitting your case to the court’s jurisdiction, the judge now has the power to determine the custody and child support awarded in your case. Therefore, you need to complete the Declaration Under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (Family Law Form FL-105/GC120), the Child Custody and Visitation Application Attachment (optional Family Law Form FL-311), and the Property Declaration (optional Family Law Form FL-160). Please note that all the declarations and sworn statements must be signed in the presence of a notary. When you fill out these forms with Peace Talks’ mediators, we supply the notary and the filing of these documents is handled quickly and efficiently for you.

After the Respondent, your soon to be ex-spouse, is served with the Petition, he or she must complete the Response – Marriage/Domestic Partnership (Family Law Form FL-120) and either Proof of Personal Service (Family Law Form FL-330) or Proof of Service by Mail (Family Law Form FL-335) depending on how the Respondent chooses to serve his or her response. Again if there are children, the Respondent needs to complete the Family Law Form FL-105/GC-120 (the Declaration Under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act) and the Family Law Form FL -311 concerning custody and visitation. By using Peace Talks divorce mediation, these forms are completed simultaneously and filed for you in the proper order.

As the Petitioner, once you have completed the above-mentioned documents, you need to go to your local courthouse. There at the clerk’s office you will file the Summons, Petition, and the relevant forms if you have children. To find your local courthouse, you may enter your zip code on the superior court website for the county within which you reside. It should be noted that in order to obtain a divorce in California, you must have been a resident of the state for the prior six months. Furthermore, you must have lived in the county in which you filed for at least the prior three months. All of these concerns are handled by Peace Talks. You do not need to go to court; your divorce mediator handles the filing of the forms for you and makes sure that you have complied with all of the legal requirements.

There is a filing fee for filing your Petition and other documents. The only way to avoid the fee is to fill out a Request to Waive Court Fees (Form FW-001), which will be reviewed by the court. If the court agrees that your income information dictates that you cannot afford the fee, it will be waived. The court clerk will take your documents, enter a file stamp and return copies to you. At Peace Talks, the cost of filing the forms is included in the affordable cost of your divorce mediation.

The next step in this process is to serve your Petition on your spouse. Since the Petition is the document that initiates the case, there are special rules to follow. For a fee, you can serve your documents by having a county sheriff or professional process server deliver the documents. If your spouse has an attorney, the service must be done on his or her counsel. If your spouse has not retained a lawyer and is representing him or herself, use the individual’s place of residence. By using Peace Talks divorce mediation, all service costs and fees are avoided since we handle everything for you.

Another method of service is to ask a responsible friend or relative over the age of 18 years old who is not involved in the case to hand deliver the papers to your spouse. If your spouse will cooperate, you may use the service by mail option and, along with a stamped copy of the Petition and other relevant documents you filed with the court, provide a Notice and Acknowledgement of Receipt (Family Law Form FL-117) for your spouse to complete. Your spouse will return this Notice to you for filing with the court. Since Peace Talks divorce mediation is a peaceful and cooperative process between you and your spouse, the service of forms will never be an issue and you can focus on the reorganization of your family.

As described above, the family law court system may seem overwhelming, but the superior court’s website and other online sites offer extensive information on how to file for divorce in California. BUT WHY DEAL WITH THIS? Consider divorce mediation at Peace Talks. Why? Because once a legal action commences, the attorneys and parties usually view the case as a win/loose proposition. Each side will do all it can to “beat” the other side. This may involve piles of discovery, questions and documents that you have to prepare, and quite possibly your deposition, your sworn testimony before a court reporter taken by your spouse’s attorney. Each of these stages of the case is time consuming, expensive, and potentially stressful for you and your family. Call Peace Talks instead and learn how Peace Talks divorce mediation can help you with the peaceful reorganization of your family through mediation. You will be glad you did. Contact us at (310) 301-2100.

e want to make sure you know that going to court is not the only way to solve family law disputes. Divorce mediation in Los Angeles is an excellent alternative.

Divorce Mediation in California is preferable because:
1) You will directly participate in finding solutions;
2) You will be able to resolve your dispute sooner;
3) It will be much less expensive;
4) You will end the process with a better relationship with your former spouse; and
5) It will be less stressful than court hearings.

These are all excellent reasons to choose mediation for your divorce.

With that being said, it’s important that you are knowledgeable about the Family Law Courts and the role they play in your divorce or divorce mediation. Once you have decided that you want to get divorced either through the court method or divorce mediation, many legal forms have to be filed to begin and complete the process. If you choose to hire an attorney, that professional will file the paperwork for you after learning all of the relevant facts about your case. If you decide to do it yourself, you will need to complete the forms and file them with the court. At Peace Talks, we file these California divorce court forms for you after discussing them with you at your initial mediation session.

All the necessary California divorce forms are available online on the California Courts website (www.courts.ca.gov). The court has provided instructions and videos for every form. Most of the material is comprehensible and the information makes it easier to work through the process; however with divorce mediation at Peace Talks, we explain all the information to you in detail.

While all California courts use the same basic set of forms, there may be additional forms required based on which county you live in. When you go online and select the courthouse you will be filing in, there will be additional links and information to determine which additional forms, if any, are needed. Peace Talks suggests you avoid this potentially complicated process and choose us to file the court forms for your divorce mediation.

In order to begin the divorce process in California, you or your spouse needs to complete a Petition for Divorce Marriage/Domestic Partnership (Family Law Form FL-100). By completing the Petition, you are now the “Petitioner” or initiator of this case. Along with the Petition, you will need a Summons (Family Law Form FL-110), and Proof of Service of Summons (Family Law Form FL-115).

California law requires a six (6) month “cooling off” period before a divorce may be finalized to prevent couples from rushing to divorce. The counting of the California six-month “cooling off” period does not begin until the Petitioner has served the Petition on the Respondent (your spouse, the responding party). While these forms come with instructions, Peace Talks’ team of divorce mediators will take the guesswork out and streamline the process for you through divorce mediation.

If you have children under the age of 18 years old, the court requires additional documents to be filed. By submitting your case to the court’s jurisdiction, the judge now has the power to determine the custody and child support awarded in your case. Therefore, you need to complete the Declaration Under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (Family Law Form FL-105/GC120), the Child Custody and Visitation Application Attachment (optional Family Law Form FL-311), and the Property Declaration (optional Family Law Form FL-160). Please note that all the declarations and sworn statements must be signed in the presence of a notary. When you fill out these forms with Peace Talks’ mediators, we supply the notary and the filing of these documents is handled quickly and efficiently for you.

After the Respondent, your soon to be ex-spouse, is served with the Petition, he or she must complete the Response – Marriage/Domestic Partnership (Family Law Form FL-120) and either Proof of Personal Service (Family Law Form FL-330) or Proof of Service by Mail (Family Law Form FL-335) depending on how the Respondent chooses to serve his or her response. Again if there are children, the Respondent needs to complete the Family Law Form FL-105/GC-120 (the Declaration Under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act) and the Family Law Form FL -311 concerning custody and visitation. By using Peace Talks divorce mediation, these forms are completed simultaneously and filed for you in the proper order.

As the Petitioner, once you have completed the above-mentioned documents, you need to go to your local courthouse. There at the clerk’s office you will file the Summons, Petition, and the relevant forms if you have children. To find your local courthouse, you may enter your zip code on the superior court website for the county within which you reside. It should be noted that in order to obtain a divorce in California, you must have been a resident of the state for the prior six months. Furthermore, you must have lived in the county in which you filed for at least the prior three months. All of these concerns are handled by Peace Talks. You do not need to go to court; your divorce mediator handles the filing of the forms for you and makes sure that you have complied with all of the legal requirements.

There is a filing fee for filing your Petition and other documents. The only way to avoid the fee is to fill out a Request to Waive Court Fees (Form FW-001), which will be reviewed by the court. If the court agrees that your income information dictates that you cannot afford the fee, it will be waived. The court clerk will take your documents, enter a file stamp and return copies to you. At Peace Talks, the cost of filing the forms is included in the affordable cost of your divorce mediation.

The next step in this process is to serve your Petition on your spouse. Since the Petition is the document that initiates the case, there are special rules to follow. For a fee, you can serve your documents by having a county sheriff or professional process server deliver the documents. If your spouse has an attorney, the service must be done on his or her counsel. If your spouse has not retained a lawyer and is representing him or herself, use the individual’s place of residence. By using Peace Talks divorce mediation, all service costs and fees are avoided since we handle everything for you.

Another method of service is to ask a responsible friend or relative over the age of 18 years old who is not involved in the case to hand deliver the papers to your spouse. If your spouse will cooperate, you may use the service by mail option and, along with a stamped copy of the Petition and other relevant documents you filed with the court, provide a Notice and Acknowledgement of Receipt (Family Law Form FL-117) for your spouse to complete. Your spouse will return this Notice to you for filing with the court. Since Peace Talks divorce mediation is a peaceful and cooperative process between you and your spouse, the service of forms will never be an issue and you can focus on the reorganization of your family.

As described above, the family law court system may seem overwhelming, but the superior court’s website and other online sites offer extensive information on how to file for divorce in California. BUT WHY DEAL WITH THIS? Consider divorce mediation at Peace Talks. Why? Because once a legal action commences, the attorneys and parties usually view the case as a win/loose proposition. Each side will do all it can to “beat” the other side. This may involve piles of discovery, questions and documents that you have to prepare, and quite possibly your deposition, your sworn testimony before a court reporter taken by your spouse’s attorney. Each of these stages of the case is time consuming, expensive, and potentially stressful for you and your family. Call Peace Talks instead and learn how Peace Talks divorce mediation can help you with the peaceful reorganization of your family through mediation. You will be glad you did. Contact us at (310) 301-2100.