Updated: Jun 11
California Divorce in 2023 - Ultimate California Divorce Guide
Requirements To Get a Divorce for FREE in Los Angeles.
To be able to get a divorce without a divorce attorney, you must meet these requirements:
Have an amicable relationship with your spouse.
Both sides must mutually agree about asset division and debts, if any.
You must also mutually agree on child custody, child support, and alimony.
If you don't meet these requirements, you must likely need to get a California divorce lawyer involved.
Contact a California Bar Certified Lawyer referral service and request a FREE case analysis. Paying a lawyer isn't something the average person wants to do, but dealing with your ex is probably a lot worse. Divorce lawyers are needed when both sides disagree, and litigation is needed to protect your rights.
Sometimes it's easier to pay a Los Angeles divorce lawyer (even if you need to request a payment plan) than dealing with you ex, having said that, here's how you may get a divorce in California without getting a lawyer involved.
Uncontested Divorce in Los Angeles California
A divorce in California is “uncontested” when both parties work to settle their differences through a written agreement.
In other words, if both of you amicably agree on who gets what and in the overall terms of your divorce, then you can follow these simple steps to get a divorce in California without incurring in additional legal costs.
Los Angeles Divorce Step 1: Select The Right Divorce Court
You must make sure that the State of California has “jurisdiction” over both individuals and all issues involved in your case, the case should be filed in the right county, and that you follow all local venue rules.
Los Angeles Divorce Step 2: Download, Prepare And File The “Initial Document Package”
After selecting the right divorce court, file your completed paperwork with the county clerk.
Los Angeles Divorce Step 3: Serve The Documents On The Opposing Party
After all the documents have been successfully filed with the county clerk, they must be properly served. There are two ways to meet this requirement. Either your spouse can choose to accept the divorce documents by signing an Acknowledgement Of Service or he/she must be formally served with the documents by a third party.
Los Angeles Divorce Step 4: If No Response Is Filed (Entry Of Default)
After the opposing party has been served with the divorce documents and has failed to respond within 30 days, he/she is “in default,” and the court clerk must record it. Once the default has been entered, the opposing party will be foreclosed from responding or appearing in the case unless he/she can successfully move to have the default vacated.
Los Angeles Divorce Step 5: Prepare The Financial Disclosure
Under the State of California rules about divorce, a proper division of community property must be filed, ensuring that child and spousal support awards will be fair for both parties. To this end, California Family Code Section § 2100 et seq. mandates the exchange of prescribed "preliminary" and "final" declarations of disclosure, along with current income and expense reports.
Los Angeles Divorce Step 6: Draft And Notarize A Marital Settlement Agreement
Suppose your spouse fails to respond to the summons and petition, and it becomes apparent that your case will NOT settle amicably due to differences in opinion. In that case, this is where you'd need to consider hiring a Los Angeles Divorce Lawyer to take over your case.
However, if your spouse agrees with all the terms, you should include all pending issues, such as:
Custody, Support, & Visitation Of Your Children
Division Of Assets
Division Of Debts
Payment Of Attorney Fees (if any) & Costs Associated With Your Divorce
Los Angeles Divorce Step 7: If There's No Agreement and Your Divorce Attorney Takes Over, He/She Will Prepare An Order To Withhold Income For Child Support (Wage Garnishment)
Whenever a support order is drafted or modified, the court must include in the order an Order/Notice To Withhold Income For Child Support that directs the paying spouse’s employer to pay to the party receiving support that portion of the paying spouse’s salary due or to become due as will be sufficient to pay:
The support amount ordered by the court, and
An amount ordered to be paid toward the liquidation of any outstanding debts.
Los Angeles Divorce Step 8: Prepare And File The “Judgment Package”
The goal during the divorce process is to obtain a judgment from the divorce court. The judgment legally dissolves the marriage and is a court order which resolves all pending issues between the parties. Whether you obtain that judgment on your own or by hiring a divorce lawyer, a proposed “Judgment Package” of documents must be drafted for submission to the court.
Los Angeles Divorce Step 9: Serve The Judgment
Where there are orders in the Judgment enforceable by contempt, it is important that a conformed copy of the Judgment is served on the opposing party and that you obtain a "certified proof of service" of the Judgment. You must have proof the judgment was properly served for the court to enforce it.
Los Angeles Divorce Step 10: If Children Are Involved, Don't Forget To File The Child Support Case Registry Form
If the court makes a child support order or a “family support” order containing child support orders, both parties must complete and file with the court a “Child Support Case Registry Form” (Form FL-191)
Serve The Wage Garnishment Order On the Spouse’s Employer
In divorce cases involving the child or spousal support, the last step in the process is to serve your Order To Withhold Income For Child Support on your spouse’s employer so that the support can be withheld and paid on time, every time.
Where To Get Assistance For Uncontested Divorce in California
If you are in mutual agreement with your spouse about all aspects of your divorce, you can get FREE assistance and download all divorce documents by scheduling an appointment with a family law facilitator near you.
However, you must get a divorce lawyer if you and your ex disagree with child custody, support, division of assets /debts, and alimony. Going to a California divorce court to face a disgruntled spouse it's like going to war.
You do not want to go to war with a toothpick, get yourself a bazooka instead! Hire a pre-screened, reputable, and knowledgeable California divorce lawyer.
How Do I Find Reputable Divorce Lawyers in Los Angeles?
If you feel you need the assistance of a family lawyer. In that case, you can request an unbiased and impartial referral to a pre-screened California lawyer specializing in California divorce by submitting your case details online 24 hours a day.
You'll be connected to a pre-screened California divorce lawyer within 5 minutes.