There are two legal ways to end a marriage in California. One is a divorce (legally called a “dissolution” of marriage), and the second is an annulment. Legal separation does not end a marriage. To start a divorce, a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage must be filed with a Summons. In additional to the Summons and Petition, additional forms may be required depending on the facts and circumstances of your case, and the county in which you are filing. If you are looking for assistance in San Bernardino County at the Barstow Superior Court, Attorney Heather Lewis can assist you in navigating the complicated filing process.

Divorce is not easy. Making the decision to end a marriage can be one of the most difficult decisions a person has to make, throw in your children and the complications that come with property, unequal incomes, or human emotion alone, and its a process that no one wants to go through. Having an attorney on your side can help you navigate the difficult journey.

After you file for divorce, or after you are served with divorce paperwork, certain steps must be taken and those steps may vary on your case and your needs:

  • If you need temporary custody and visitation orders, a Request for Order for child custody and visitation must be filed.
  • If you have been served with a Request for Order for child custody and visitation you must attend “Child Custody Recommending Counseling” more commonly called “Family Court Services”, and a Responsive Declaration to Request for Order must be filed with the Court.
  • If you need child support, spousal support (alimony), or assistance with attorneys fees, a Request for Order for child support, spousal support, and/or attorneys fees must be filed, with the necessary attached forms and necessary Income and Expense Declaration.
  • If you are served with a Request for Order for child support, spousal support, and/or attorney fees, a Responsive Declaration to Request for Order and Income and Expense Declaration must be filed, with all necessary attachment.
  • With the Petition or within sixty days of filing the Petition you must serve your “Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure” and necessary forms, like a schedule of assets and debts, property declaration, Income and Expense Declaration, and supporting information, and you must file a Declaration regarding Service of these documents. These same forms must be completed and served by the “Respondent” at the same time the Response is filed or within sixty days of serving the Response. A Declaration regarding service must also be filed by the Respondent.
  • If a Petition is filed and served, and the Respondent does not respond within thirty days, the matter may proceed in default.
  • The parties may enter into a stipulated agreement/judgment for permanent orders on all or some of the issues in their case. 
  • If the parties do not enter into an agreement/judgment on all issues in their case then the matter must proceed to hearing and/or trial for the Judge or Commissioner to make a decision.

  • IMPORTANT: You will not get divorced if you simply file and serve a Petition and Summons and wait the statutory waiting period of six months. A Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage (or Judgment for Annulment) must be filed with the Court for you to legally be a single person again.
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