How To File for Divorce in California

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Divorce is an emotional and complex process. There are many factors to consider, such as custody, child support, alimony, and property division. It might seem like a daunting task, considering all the steps that are involved while trying to complete your case.

But don’t worry. If you are in California and want to file for divorce, here are ten steps you should follow.

The Divorce Process in California

Step 1. Meet California’s Divorce Residency Requirements

To file for divorce in California, you must meet the state’s residency requirements. These requirements are intended to ensure that those who file for divorce live in California for six months before filing their case.

Step 2: Prepare for Your Case

This stage is the most crucial step. You need to think about how you want to handle your case and what it will look like before you even file. Make sure that you have read the California Divorce Forms and understand them. You will also want to prepare your documents and get a lawyer to guide you through the divorce process.

Step 3: Complete the California Divorce Forms

After thinking about your case, it’s time to fill out the applicable forms and documents needed for filing for divorce in California. It can be a little overwhelming if you’ve never done it before, but don’t worry! We’ll help make sure everything is filed correctly and on time.

Step 4: Serve Your Spouse with the Petition and Summons

In California, you can serve your spouse with a petition and summons to divorce in person, by mail, or by facsimile transmission. Once you have served your spouse with the petition and summons, you should file the papers with the court clerk.

Step 5: Prepare Your Case for Court

Prepare your case for court by gathering all necessary paperwork, documents, and evidence. You will need to provide copies of any agreements or documents that support your case, such as a prenuptial agreement or property settlement agreement.

Step 6: Attend the Mandatory Status Conference (MSC) or Case Management Conference (CMC)

The mandatory status conference is the first step in your divorce case. The court will review all the paperwork, including your divorce petition and any additional documents you want to submit. If you don’t attend, the court may dismiss your case.

Step 7: Go to Trial if Necessary

If you can’t solve your problems by working together, then it’s time for a trial. At this point, each side gets a chance to present evidence and make arguments about why their version of events is more likely authentic than the other person’s version of events. Then, the judge decides if there are enough facts to support each party’s story and makes decisions based on what they believe happened in the case.

Step 8: Get a Judgment (Court Order) of Divorce

The final step is to get a “judgment” from the court. It’s a court order confirming your divorce, allowing you to end your marriage legally. If you filed the divorce before the 90-day waiting period, you must wait until you can file for an order.


Divorces are often stressful for those involved in them, so the last thing you need is a legal dispute over issues that don’t require your presence. We hope you find this guide helpful in getting you through your divorce as swiftly and painlessly as possible, leaving you to put the past behind you and move forward into the future. Contact attorney Eric Mercer in Sacramento, California for family law services. We are here to help!

About the author 

Eric Mercer

Eric Mercer is the owner and primary attorney at the Law Office of Eric Andrew Mercer based in Sacramento, California, but represents clients all over California. He started his legal career as a patent litigator at an intellectual property law firm in Palo Alto, California. He formed his own law firm in 2009, where his practice includes family law, consumer law, and personal injury. His family law practice focuses on parents’ custody rights and support. His consumer practice focuses on individual and class action litigation involving mortgage loan servicing, foreclosure avoidance options, mortgage origination, foreclosure rescue scams, automobile fraud, and unfair debt collection. His personal injury practice focuses on bicycle and motorcycle accidents. He is experienced in California and federal courts through all phases of litigation, trial and appeal.

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