Legal Guide

How to Start a Divorce in California Without an Attorney

            Navigating the divorce process in California without an attorney representing you can be a scary thought. This article will grant you the peace of mind and knowledge that you will need to initiate the divorce process. Your first step will be figuring out which county to file your divorce paperwork. In order for a court to have jurisdiction, you or your spouse must first be a resident of the State of California for at least six months prior to filing for divorce in California. Additionally, you or your spouse need to be a resident of the county where you file for a minimum of 3 months. If you need assistance determining which county has jurisdiction in your case contact a divorce attorney.

            After you determine which court has jurisdiction, you need to fill out the necessary forms to start your divorce. First you will need an FL-100. This is a petition for dissolution (divorce). There are videos on Youtube that can help you fill this form out correctly. If you still cannot figure out how to correctly fill out your forms after watching the videos available on Youtube, then feel free to contact Ronald Humphrey.

            You will also need to fill out an FL-110.  This is a Summons for family law cases. Additionally, if there are minor children from the marriage you will need to fill out a FL-105 which is a Declaration Under Uniform Child Custody. This is the form the court uses to make sure they have jurisdiction to make decisions regarding you minor children. There are Youtube videos available to help you fill out these forms as well, but the FL-105 can be a little more complicate, so don’t hesitate to reach out for help

Once you have all your forms completed, make two more copies of each form. Then take the originals and the copies to the family law clerk of the county you selected to file your case. The clerk will stamp your forms, file the originals, and give you back the copies. One of the copies will be for you records and the other will need to be served on your spouse. Since this is the initial filing for the case, you will need to have the documents personally served on your spouse. You can use a friend or family member, but it has to be someone else, not you. If no one else is available, you can contact the local sheriff’s department or a registered process to serve the documents.

Whoever serves the documents needs to also fill out FL-115. This is Proof of Service and must be filed with the family law clerk too. Completing these steps will initiate your divorce process. Now the hard work begins. If you have already initiated a divorce and you need help completing your case, please  see additional resources that will help finish you case. You can also contact Humphrey Family Law directly if you need personal assistance.

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