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Posted on September 20, 2016 in Divorce

You may be in a position where you know that you need to start a divorce case – the court process of ending your marriage or registered domestic partnership, but you do not know exactly where to start. You may have already discussed divorce with your spouse or registered domestic partner, or you might not have. It can be productive to see if there are any agreements that might reduce the need for a long drawn out divorce case. There may be circumstances, such as where there is domestic violence, that may warrant not discussing the divorce with your spouse. This article is not legal advice and you should consult with an attorney if you have any questions about your particular circumstances. The following are a few basic steps that will initiate the court process needed to end your marriage.

Fill Out Your Petition and Related Paperwork

The Petition (Form FL-100) needs to be completed. This and the other forms referred to in this article can be obtained from your local court’s website. The Petition is a form prepared by the Judicial Council of California. In filling out your form, a person provides statistical information to the judge regarding the marriage (date of marriage, date of separation, minor children, county of residence), the procedure that will be used (divorce, legal separation, or nullity), and the relief that is requested (child support, spousal support, division of assets, attorney’s fees, restoration of former name, etc.). It is a good idea to seek assistance in filling out the FL-100, as the FL-100 is the pleading the judge will use at trial or default hearing to grant the relief requested. The Family Law Facilitator’s Office offers free resources, including workshops and walk-in assistance. It is also a good idea to consult with an attorney for this step.

The Summons (Form FL-110) needs to be completed. The summons is a notice to the other party that a case has been filed. The Summons also notifies the other party of the Automatic Temporary Restraining Orders that are put in place when a case is filed.

Each Petitioner has to file a Family Law Certificate of Assignment – Venue Declaration (Form SDSC D-048). This tells the Court that the case is filed in the correct courthouse.

If there are minor children, there is an additional form to fill out – the Declaration Under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (Form FL-105). This form gives the judge required information about the children’s residence and whether there are any other court cases relating to the custody of the children.

Filing and Service of the Paperwork

Once all necessary paperwork is completed, it needs to be copied, filed and served. The court’s business office requires the originals and two additional copies. There is a fee for filing a divorce case. One can apply to have the fee waived. When the Petition and related paperwork are filed, the court clerk will keep the originals and return the two file-stamped copies.

Next, the Petition, Summons, and related paperwork needs to be served on the other party. The paperwork must be served by someone over the age of 18 who is not a party to the action. I.e., one spouse cannot serve the other spouse.

Of course, circumstances may require variation from the above basic procedure. If you would like to consult with an attorney about initiating the divorce process or if you have questions about any aspect of obtaining a divorce judgment, please contact our office at 858-974-4900. Attorney Scott Family Law, CFLS, is a Certified Family Law Specialist with more than 35 years of litigation experience in San Diego County, California. We are located in Murphy Canyon, San Diego, California, just north of Mission Valley.