9 Common Steps to Getting A Divorce

The divorce process in California consists of steps and procedures that carry the case through trial. A divorce is also known as “dissolution of domestic partnership” or “dissolution of marriage.” In California, it is the only way of legally ending a marriage or a domestic relationship.

These are the nine common steps to getting a divorce:

1. Filing and Service of Divorce Petition

The divorce process starts with the filing of a petition for dissolution of marriage and all related forms. Then the court assigns it a case number, and this is the moment where you can say that you officially have an open divorce. It is also the time to serve the petition on your spouse.

2. Responding to the Divorce Petition

The response form is similar to the petition, containing similar requests for the same information. After you complete the response, it is signed and filed with the court of law. Typically, the answer to the petition is mailed to the petitioner or the petitioner’s lawyer.

3. Filing a Request for Temporary Custody and Support Orders

You can submit the request for temporary orders at the same time you file the divorce petition, or afterward. The application for an order can be filed after the response to the petition is filed and served, but it can also happen during the petition procedure. There is no strict timeline for said issues. Depending on circumstances, sometimes it makes more sense to file them at the beginning of the divorce process, and sometimes it is best to do it later.

4. Responding to Requests for Temporary Custody and Managing Attorney Fees

After being served with a request for temporary orders, you need to file a response to the request and provide the court with written declarations that respond to those of your spouse. California law has specific deadlines for submitting your response statement, and it is very dangerous to ignore these deadlines.

In case you don’t have the same ability to pay attorney’s fees as your spouse does, you can use the court to seek contribution from your soon-to-be-ex-spouse.

5. Temporary Custody and Support Hearing

The timeline for the request for order hearing depends on the complexity of the hearing. If you and your spouse are unable to settle the issue before the hearing, spouses are required to testify on the matters where there is no agreement.

6. Declarations of Disclosure

A disclosure consists of necessary forms and other legal documents that disclose to the other spouse all of the property assets, income, expenses, and debts. The preliminary declaration of disclosure has to be served within 60 days of the petition or 60 days from the response to the petition.

7. The Discovery Process

The formal request for information from your spouse is called discovery. It comes in many forms, the most common ones being requests for admissions and deposits, interrogatories, and for the production of documents.

8. Settlements Negotiations

Settlement negotiations typically start after spouses have exchanged their preliminary declaration of disclosure. In most cases, settlement offers are in written forms, from one lawyer to another. Afterward, there are counter offers until the spouses settle.

9. The Trial

The procedure of setting a trial for a divorce case in California varies from each county. Most likely, both sides will have to appear and testify at trial, so it’s best to be prepared by reviewing everything with your attorney.


Divorce is never easy, but we can help you ease the experience with the correct paralegal advice. Contact Platinum Paralegals for more information.