Stages for a Divorce or Legal Separation

Stage 1 - Initial Pleadings

The person who first files the divorce or legal separation forms with the court is the petitioner, She/He fills out and files at least a PETITION and a SUMMONS with the court; and if there are children of the relationship, a DECLARATION UNDER UNIFORM CHILD CUSTODY JURISDICTION AND ENFORCEMENT ACT.

The court clerk will stamp and return copies of the filed forms to the petitioner, which are then served on the respondent.

Someone 18 or older, NOT the petitioner, must serve the spouse with the court filled forms, plus a blank RESPONSE-MARRIAGE/DOMESTIC PARTNERSHIP.

The person serving the pleadings then completes a PROOF OF SERVICE form, that must also be filed with the court clerk.

If you need a court order for child support, custody, parenting time(visitation), spousal or partner support, restraining orders, or have other issues you will need to file a REQUEST FOR ORDER asking for temporary orders.

Stage 2 - Financial Disclosures

The petitioner must also fill out four (4) other documents: DECLARATION OF DISCLOSURE, INCOME AND EXPENSE DECLARATION, SCHEDULE OF ASSETS AND DEBTS, AND PROPERTY DECLARATION, detailing you and your spouses’ assets, liabilities, income, and expenses, plus ALL tax returns filed by the party in the two(2) years before serving the disclosure documents and a DECLARATION REGARDING SERVICE OF DISCLOSURE form, indicating the date, time and manner of serving the other party with said documents.

Stage 3

Respondent does not file a response (called default)

No Response and No written Agreement:

Petitioner moves for a default divorce.

No Response BUT written agreement:

Petitioner attaches the signed and notarized agreement to the proposed JUDGMENT, and submits it with all the other forms to finalize the divorce.

Respondent files a response

Response AND Written agreement:

Petitioner attaches the signed and notarized agreement to the proposed JUDGMENT, and submits it with all the other forms to finalize the divorce.

Response and NO agreement:

Parties must go to trial and have a judge resolve the issues.

Important Notice

You are NOT divorced or legally separated until the court enters a JUDGMENT in your case!

You must keep the court and other party informed of any changes in your mailing address or other contact information.

WHAT IF THERE IS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE?

IF THERE IS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE OR A PROTECTIVE OR RESTRAINING ORDER, TALK TO A LAWYER, COUNSELOR, OR MEDIATOR BEFORE MAKING AGREEMENTS.

FOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HELP, CALL THE NATIONAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOTLINE: 800-799-7233; TDD: 800-787-3224 OR 211 (IF AVAILABLE IN YOUR AREA)

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Martinez, CA  94553

Phone: 925 526-6331

Fax: 925 526-6332

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