person taking ring off finger

Understanding the Divorce Process

Getting divorced requires couples to go through several complicated and specific processes. To protect your rights during this time, it’s imperative you understand California’s divorce laws and procedures for divorce. In this guide, our Pasadena divorce attorneys explain the divorce process.

California Divorce

Before anyone gets a divorce in California, one spouse must have been a California resident for 180 days or six months. Once a divorce has been filed and the paperwork delivered to the other spouse, it will be six months from the date the spouse received the paperwork before the divorce can be completed.

There is no common law marriage in California. No couple is considered married unless they obtain a marriage license and enter into a legal relationship. California is a community property state. This means that all the debts and property acquired by the couple during their marriage is shared equally between them at the time of their divorce.

Summons and Petitioner

All divorces in California start with a Petition (FL-100) and a Summons (FL-110). Should children be involved, a Declaration Under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, or UCCJEA (FL-105), must also be filed. This is related to the residences of the children during the past five years. There will be a mandatory filing fee. Anyone who can't pay the fees may qualify to get assistance to be granted a waiver.

Serving Court Papers

The court papers are served soon after they are filed. Once a spouse has been served, it will be important to provide the court with proof of service. This is accomplished with a form known as Proof of Service of Summons (FL-115). An Acknowledgment of Receipt should be attached to form FL-115. This form must be correctly completed to move the divorce process forward.

Disagree With Divorce

In California, it only requires one spouse to seek a divorce. Once the paperwork is served and filed, it establishes clear intent for divorce. Even if a spouse doesn't agree, the spouse who petitioned the divorce has a unilateral right to seek and receive a divorce.

Responsive Declaration

A spouse who has been served with divorce papers can file a response to having a judge hear their side of the story. It is a way they can protect their legal rights. They will have 30 days to respond. A Responsive Declaration should be sent to an opposing spouse and their attorney.

Temporary Orders

In California, a day after the service of papers, temporary orders can be requested. They could involve many different issues, including:

  • Attorney fees

  • Child custody and visitation

  • Exclusive use of property

  • Spousal support

  • Child Support

Financial Disclosure

During disclosure, there are four different forms that will need to be filled out. They are FL-150, FL-140, FL-142, and FL-141. This requires a couple to list all their assets, income, debts as well as expenses. A couple will be required to list exactly who owns or owes each asset or debt. They will have to state when the debt or the property was acquired and provide an approximate value of each item.


This is a process for each spouse to obtain relevant information from the other in order to prepare for trial. Information that may be collected includes:

  • Facts

  • Informal witness statements

  • Getting witness statements in a disposition

  • Learn what the other side will be saying

  • See how good you think their case is

  • See how good your own case is

  • Get all the information you need to present your case in court

Discovery can be a formal or informal process. According to California Courts, the information gathered during discovery is not filed with the court. Instead, it is shared with the other party in the lawsuit. The process can be very complicated, and knowledge of evidence rules and other legal strategies is a must. Therefore, it’s in your best interest to have a skilled Pasadena divorce attorney represent you.


It is possible for a couple seeking a divorce to reach a settlement before going to trial. It must be an agreement both spouses accept. The divorce decree or final judgment will contain the terms of their agreement. Several divorce issues that must be explained in their agreement.

  • Marital Status

  • Child Custody

  • Attorney Fees

  • Visitation

  • Debt Allocation/Reimbursement Claims

  • Child Support

  • Property Division

  • Spousal Support


It is possible for a couple not to be able to settle their issues. They can then go to trial. This will be scheduled to discuss all the settlement options where a couple has not reached an agreement. Once a judge has ruled on certain issues, like the date of separation, it is often easier for a couple to resolve their other divorce issues. If this fails, a couple may request a trial form a judge.

Finalizing the Divorce

When couples are given a filed judgment back from the court with a judge's signature, their divorce is final. They will be given a filed Notice of Entry of Judgment separately. Once these documents are received back from the court, the couple's divorce is officially complete.

Getting a California can become quite complicated. If you have any questions regarding the divorce process or need help with your case, do not hesitate to contact the Law Offices of Christopher L. Hoglin. We have helped many couples facing the challenges associated with divorce. Our Pasadena divorce lawyer is dedicated to obtaining the best possible result for our clients.

If you need legal assistance with your divorce, call us today at