Ive Been Served With Divorce Papers in California Now What?
Sign a Form to Say You Received the Petition
One of the first steps after receiving divorce papers is to sign and return the Notice and Acknowledgment of Receipt (FL-117). By doing so, you acknowledge that you have received the divorce petition and summons, and this action initiates the six-month waiting period, a mandatory waiting period in California before the divorce can be finalized. This waiting period allows both parties to sort out their emotions and make rational decisions regarding the divorce.
Along with triggering the waiting period, signing the Notice and Acknowledgment of Receipt sets another crucial timeline: You have 30 days to decide whether you want to file a Response (FL-120) or not.
Decide If You Want to File a Response
Once you have acknowledged receipt of the divorce papers, you need to decide whether you want to file a Response. The Response is an official legal document in which you can agree or disagree with the divorce terms presented in the Petition.
You might not need to file a Response if:
- You and your spouse have already reached an agreement on all issues related to the divorce.
- You expect that both of you can work together towards an amicable agreement, either on your own or with the help of a mediator.
However, if you do decide to file a Response, it’s important to know the following steps:
- Pay the Court Filing Fee: Filing a Response typically involves paying a court filing fee, which usually ranges from $435 to $450.
- Prepare, File, and Serve a Response and Formal Financial Disclosures: You will need to prepare the Response form (FL-120) and submit it to the court within 30 days of signing the Notice and Acknowledgment of Receipt. Additionally, you will be required to provide formal financial disclosures, revealing your assets, income, and debts. This information helps ensure an equitable division of property and assets during the divorce process.
Quick Tip: If you find the process overwhelming, you can consider purchasing a Pro Spouse Service to receive assistance with Steps 1 and 2.
If you choose not to file a Response, your spouse will move forward with the divorce process. They will complete Step 2, which includes serving you with their financial documents. In this scenario, it’s essential to be transparent about your finances, as they will be factored into the final divorce settlement.
Note: Some California counties, such as Alameda, Contra Costa, Los Angeles, Marin, Nevada, Orange, San Mateo, Tulare, and Ventura, require both spouses to complete financial disclosures.
Work on an Agreement with Your Spouse
If you opt to proceed with the divorce and have filed a Response, the next step is to work with your spouse to reach an agreement on all divorce-related issues. This may involve child custody and support arrangements, division of assets and debts, and spousal support.
For couples who can communicate effectively and cooperate, reaching a mutual agreement might be achievable without legal intervention. However, if you encounter difficulties during this process, mediation can be immensely helpful. Mediators are neutral third parties who can facilitate discussions and guide you both towards a fair resolution.
Whether you work out an agreement on your own or with a mediator’s assistance, the next step involves preparing the required divorce forms for Step 3. know law offers a platform where you can access various resources to help you during this phase. They also have a co-parenting plan worksheet, which can be beneficial if you have minor children and want to create a comprehensive parenting plan.
Once you and your spouse have finalized the agreement and completed the necessary forms, you can use the Divorce Navigator to prepare and submit the paperwork to the court. Alternatively, if your spouse has a Divorce Plus or Divorce with Benefits membership, they can avail the assistance of a legal assistant to complete the process for you.
It’s essential to review the paperwork thoroughly before signing off on it. If you feel uncertain about any legal aspects, it’s wise to have a lawyer review the documents to ensure everything aligns with your best interests.
Finally, once the court receives and processes the divorce judgment, you will officially be divorced.
Divorce is undeniably a challenging and emotional process, especially when children are involved. Understanding the steps involved in responding to the divorce petition and working towards a fair agreement can provide some clarity during this tumultuous time. Remember to take your time, seek professional advice when needed, and focus on reaching a resolution that benefits both parties and, most importantly, the children involved.
- What is the waiting period after filing a Response in a California divorce? In California, there is a mandatory six-month waiting period from the time the divorce papers are served and the acknowledgment of receipt is signed. This waiting period must pass before the divorce can be finalized.
- Do I need a lawyer to file a Response in my divorce? While you are not required to have a lawyer, seeking legal counsel can be beneficial, especially if you are uncertain about the legal process or have complex issues to address during the divorce.
- Can I change my mind after filing a Response and deciding not to proceed with the divorce? Yes, you can still change your mind and halt the divorce proceedings even after filing a Response. It’s essential to communicate your decision clearly with your spouse and the court.
- What is the purpose of financial disclosures in a divorce? Financial disclosures are essential in a divorce as they provide a complete overview of each spouse’s financial situation. This information helps ensure a fair division of assets, debts, and spousal support, if applicable.
- Can I use online divorce platforms for my California divorce? Yes, you can use online divorce platforms like Know law to access resources, prepare divorce forms, and get assistance during the divorce process. However, for complex or contested cases, it’s advisable to consult with a family law attorney.