California Divorce Forms -
Can You Fill Them Out Yourself?
Since I started the self-law movement in Berkeley, California in 1971, millions of couples have successfully filled out and filed their own California divorce forms, so you can almost certainly do it too. After reading this article, you'll know how to get started.
Doing your own California divorce is about a lot more than filling out and filing the California divorce forms. The real work is in the process--thinking things through, making decisions, and working out an agreement with your spouse. But with that said, filling out the official California divorce forms is an important part of the process, so this article will tell you how to get started.
First, be sure you are using the official California divorce forms, published by the California Judicial Council. There are quite a few of them, and they are all numbered. Most of them start with FL which stands for Family Law. For example, the Petition, which is one of the first forms to be filed, is FL-100. You don't need to fill out all of them. Just use the California divorce forms that apply to your case.
At the top of most of the California divorce forms is a heading called a caption. You will need to fill in the fields described in the following three bullet points.
♦ "Attorney or Party Without Attorney" field. This is the field at the top of the caption. Since you are filling the forms out yourself instead of paying an attorney to do it for you, you will type "In Pro Per" where the name of the attorney goes. This is abbreviated Latin, meaning you are appearing for yourself, without an attorney. In some states, they use "pro se" instead of "In Pro Per", but not in California. You will also type in your name, address, and telephone number in this field.
♦ "Superior Court of California" field. Call the County Clerk's Office, Civil Filings desk, and ask which branch you should file in, and the name and address for that branch. Type that information in this field, using capital letters for the name of the county in which you file. You can do an internet search on "California Superior Courts" to find a list of these courts and their locations.
♦ "Marriage of" field. Here is where you type in the names for the Petitioner and the Respondent. The Petitioner is the person who first files the divorce papers. The Respondent is the other spouse. While not required, it's best to use the full names. Type the names in capital letters, in the normal order--last name goes last.
As stated above, the person who starts the divorce is called the Petitioner. This persons files the Petition (form FL-100) and the Summons (Form FL-110) with the Clerk at the appropriate courthouse. The Summons is one of the few forms that does not have a caption at the top.
If the divorcing couple has minor children, the Petitioner will also have to file a form called "Declaration Under UCCJEA" (form FL-105). UCCJEA refers to the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction And Enforcement Act.
Furthermore, if the Petitioner needs to join a retirement plan or fund to the filing, it's best to do this when filing the other forms describe above by filing a Joinder, which involves a few extra California divorce papers.
To learn more about doing your own divorce and how to get complete instructions for filling out and filing the official forms, go to California divorce forms.
Ed Sherman is the author of How to Do Your Own Divorce in California and the divorce expert attorney famous for founding Nolo Press and the self-help law movement. Since 1971, his books and software have saved divorcing couples BILLIONS of dollars in legal fees. He owns http://californiadivorceforms.org/your-ca-divorce, where he provides comprehensive advice and tips on how to get the best possible California divorce.