Step 1: Get and Complete Your Court Forms
In California, to ask the court to legally end your marriage or registered domestic partnership you will need to get, fill out, and sign certain court forms.
- The person who files the first papers is called the "petitioner", and is listed as the petitioner on all court forms connected with this court case - no matter how long the case lasts.
- The other spouse or partner is automatically called the "respondent", and will always be listed on the court form in this way.
You may want to work with someone to help you understand and fill out your court forms. You should also consider hiring an attorney to help make sure that you have completed the forms correctly before they are filed.
You can get these forms from most courthouses, for a small fee, and in many libraries or bookstores as well as on this website. See the "forms" section. Click on the form number to open the fillable form.
Although many people fill out their court forms online and then print them, you may also fill out court forms by hand. If you hand write your forms, they must be printed neatly so other people can read them easily. You may use "white out" on your court forms if you make a small mistake, but it must not get in the way of the form being easy to read.
NOTE: You may not need all of these forms. Or you may need more forms. If you're not sure which forms to use, talk to your Family Law Facilitator or a lawyer.
For help in getting low-cost legal aid, click here.
For help finding local court forms you may need, go to your county's court website: click here.
To start the court case, the petitioner must fill out and file:
- Petition-Marriage/Domestic Partnership (Form FL-100)
See the instructions on form FL-107-INFO
This form tells the court the date you got married or registered your domestic partnership, the names and ages of any children you share, the property you and your spouse or partner own, any debts you and your spouse or partner have, and so on. It also tells the court how you want to restructure your life after the divorce. There is a fee for filing this form.
- The Summons (Form FL-110)
(for either a marriage or registered domestic partnership)
This form tells your spouse or partner that a court case has been started. It also includes standard orders that both of you must obey until your case is finished.
SPECIAL NOTE: If you and your spouse or partner have children together, and they are 18 years old or younger, you must also fill out the "Declaration Under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act" form.
- Declaration Under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) Form FL-105/GC-120)
See the instructions for this form.
If you run out of room on the Petition (Form FL-100) while you're listing your property and debts, you must fill out a "Property Declaration" form.
If there is an emergency and you need immediate help from the court:
You may ask the court to make emergency orders (called Ex Parte orders), or for a quick court hearing date. These orders will only last until your next court hearing where your spouse or partner can be present and the judge can make a decision about whether or not to extend the orders longer. For more information on getting emergency orders, click here.
| MORE ABOUT COURT FORMS: |
- For information about how to use fillable forms, click here.
- To download free Adobe Acrobat Reader, click here.
- To view short videos called "Paperwork Basics" (forms) and "Service of Process", click here.
- For more information about the forms on our site, click here.
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