How to File for Divorce

By Henry F. Lewis on June 28, 2021

wedding ring on top of divorce papersMost people do not come to the decision to file for divorce very easily. Once that decision is made, many want a fast, clean process. Unfortunately, filing for divorce can be complicated, especially when a couple shares substantial marital assets, or when children are involved.

Here, divorce lawyer Michael A. Gardner provides his Oakland, CA, clients with a brief overview of how to file for divorce in the state of California. Understanding this process helps individuals avoid costly and time-consuming mistakes.

Hire a Divorce Lawyer

The state of California does not require individuals to work with a divorce lawyer when filing for divorce. However, we highly recommend it. A knowledgeable divorce lawyer understands local divorce laws and knows all of the paperwork that must be filed with the court system. Additionally, most divorces involve areas of dispute, whether regarding the division of assets, child custody arrangements, or spousal support payments. When trying to get a divorce settlement that favors your best interest, it is always beneficial to have an attorney working on your behalf.

Prepare to File Your Case

When preparing to end a marriage, it is important to understand exactly what to file for, and where to file the paperwork. Depending on the details of the relationship, residents of California may file for a divorce, a legal separation, a summary dissolution, or an annulment. Michael A. Gardner can help his Oakland clients determine which procedure is right for them.

Individuals also need to be sure they are filing for divorce with the right court. To file for divorce in California, at least one of the spouses needs to have lived in the state for at least six months. Further, at least one spouse must have resided in the county where the divorce is filed for at least three months.

File Appropriate Paperwork

When filing for divorce there is a lot of paperwork to fill out. It is essential that paperwork is filled out completely and correctly, or it will not be accepted. Paperwork that may be necessary to file for divorce in California includes:

  • Divorce petition - This provides basic information about the relationship and specifies the type of order being requested of the court.
  • Summons - This form describes the separation and divorce process and provides guidelines regarding what can and cannot be done with money, property, and other marital assets during the divorce proceedings. It also offers guidelines regarding child custody.
  • Property declaration - This is a list of property and marital assets, as well as debts. This form is necessary if information does not fit on the divorce petition.
  • Declaration under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act  - This form is only necessary if the marriage involves children who are under the age of 18. 
  • Financial disclosure form - This form specifies all assets and debts (both shared and separate). Financial disclosure forms can be filled out at the time of a divorce filing, or within 60 days after filing the petition.

Once paperwork is filled out, the petitioner should make at least two copies of each form. The originals should then be filed with the appropriate county court. A filing fee will be due at this time.

Serve Your Spouse

When our Oakland clients file for divorce, their spouse must be notified, or “served” with copies of all court documents. Paperwork must be delivered by someone (other than the spouse) over the age of 18, such as a friend, family member, police officer, or process server.

Complete the Divorce

Filing for a divorce is not the same as completing a divorce. The next course of action depends on if the spouse responds to the divorce petition, whether the spouses have agreed on the division of assets, and whether a child custody agreement is in place. Michael Gardner assists his clients in completing divorce proceedings and obtaining a divorce agreement that is in their favor.

Get In Touch

Divorce proceedings can be complex, which is why it is important to have a knowledgeable lawyer on your side. If you would like to meet with Michael A. Gardner to discuss the details of your divorce, we invite you to send us a message online, or call our law firm at (510) 451-4822.

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The needs of your family are always at the forefront of our legal services. Whether through litigation or mediation, we believe that reaching a fair, efficient solution with minimal negative impact to your family is of the utmost importance. Henry F. Lewis

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Oakland, CA 94612

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Oakland Office

1939 Harrison St
Ste 210
Oakland, CA 94612

Open Today 9:00am - 5:00pm

More Info Directions (510) 451-4822