The legal process begins with the required forms. You can download them for free from the California Courts web site. Be sure to read all instructions carefully and fill out all the necessary documents. You will need:
- Petition - Form FL-100. This form provides basic information to the court and allows you to ask for any court orders you want.
- Summons - Fm FL-110. This form covers the divorce or separation process as well as some standard orders with repect to your assets and liabilities. It also addresses moving out of state with your children.
- Property Declaration - Form FL-160 Is an extension to FL-110 to fully list your properties and debts.
- Declaration Under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) (Form FL-105/GC-120) is required if there are children of the marriage under the age of 18.
- Child Custody and Visitation Application Attachment - Form FL-311is not required, but will help ensure that all custody and visitation issues are addressed.
When your forms have been completed and reviewed, you will need to file them with the court. California divorce court fees are $435 for the initial filing. If the party who is not filing needs to respond to the claims made in the initial filing, the spousal response fee is another $435. This is why it is much less expensive to come to agreements ahead of time as to property, debt, child custody, visitation and support payments. If you can't afford the fees, you can request a waiver.
The person filing must serve the other spouse with copies of all of your paperwork. The law says you cannot serve your spouse yourself, but you may have a friend or family member do it for you. Otherwise you must hire a process server or sherrif to deliver it, both of which will charge fees. Your spouse has thirty days from the date served to respond. If you and your spouse are in agreement, the divorce process is fairly simple from this point. If not, extended court battles and attorney fees can be extremely expensive.
That is all of the California divorce court fees, but when there are children involved the court can order psychological evaluations and treatments that can be very costly. If you focus on equitable solutions for both parties and not on winning or losing, you can minimize the financial burdon of this difficult legal situation so that both of you can move on with your lives.