The California Divorce Process

Divorce can be a very traumatic and difficult time for any couple, but knowing the process for filing divorce is the first step in getting your life back on track. California was the first state to adopt the “no-fault divorce” concept which means a spouse can ask for divorce even if there wasn’t any marital misconduct.

  1. The first step begins with filing of summons, which is a petition for the dissolution of marriage. There is a $435 application fee but if you’re unable to afford that, there are additional forms you can complete to get it waived. The divorce summons and petition is usually served in person and once the respondent signs, it is returned to court. If the respondent refuses to sign the papers, a proper service can be issued against the respondent. The way the petition is completed and whether proper information was included can have a significant impact on what the court orders in a default proceeding. Because of this, it is highly recommended to have a divorce lawyer involved in the entire process.
  2. If you have children, the next step would be to request for temporary orders on custody and support. This process could take a rather long time as there are many nuances the court will look at depending on each case. It’s best you speak with a family attorney who can help you with everything. Once child custody and support is determined, the next step would be a declaration of disclosure. A declaration of disclosure is a set of mandatory forms and other documents that disclose to the other spouse all of the community and separate property assets, debts, income and expenses. There are specific forms used for such disclosures that your lawyer can explain further. The discovery process is the formal request for information from your spouse. This comes in many forms but the more common ones are interrogations, request for production of documents, request for admissions and depositions. Some divorce cases require the use of one or more experts which can come in a few different types.

You and your spouse will be given the opportunity to settle the divorce case and avoid court.

A good lawyer will always work with you to try to resolve as many issues as possible without the court. Typically, after you and your spouse have exchanged your declaration of disclosure, settlement negotiations begin. If there are big financial or custodial hurdles to overcome, letting the court decide might sound like the easiest, but it’s best to settle the issues without the assistance of a judge. The divorce process can take a while. From the filing of a petition to the filing of a stipulated judgment, working through a settlement and everything in between it can take months.

Make sure to contact an experienced divorce attorney at Drury Pullen Law to help you with all aspects of your divorce case.


Drury Pullen Law
148 E Carrillo Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93101 US
Phone: (805) 879-7523
Fax: (805) 966-0506