Summary of the Divorce Process in SF




I am a paralegal (not a lawyer), so my role is to prepare and fill out the forms, and to help guide you through the court process steps, as well as filing the forms with the court on your behalf. I do not provide legal advice. I cannot give you my legal opinion or help you come to your decisions.  I help with the form process from beginning to end and if both parties are in agreement, neither of you will have to go to court. 


1.     To file for divorce in CA, it is enough for one person to file a Petition for Divorce with the court. The person filing is known as the Petitioner. They are the person who fills out the questionnaire and signs the Divorce Petition.

2.     I file the Petition with the court in the county where you or your spouse resides (regardless of where you were married). I present your Petition to the court for filing along with the $450 court fee, so that the court can issue a case number.

3.  Once the case has been filed and we get a case number, we need to notify the Respondent (the other party) that a legal case has begun. I prepare a service packet, which can be picked up in my office, sent by regular mail, or delivered personally by another adult of your choice. Once received by mail, the Respondent must sign and date the Acknowledgment of receipt (not necessarily the agreement). If “service” is done by mail, the signed Acknowledgment form is returned to me. If service is done in my office, or by a third party, the Respondent doesn’t have to sign anything.

4. Regardless of the method used to serve your spouse, on the date of Service, two clocks start: The first, is a 6-month mandatory waiting period. No sooner than six months, can the court order your divorce.   The second clock that starts, is a 30-day review period. During these 30 days, the respondent reviews the petition and decides if they want to contest the case. If so, a response needs to be filed with the court (to contest the case) within the 30-day period.

5.     Financial Disclosures: If proceeding by an agreement, both parties prepare financial disclosures and exchange a list of assets/debts, income/expense, and documents such as 2 years taxes, 2 pay stubs. These are due approx. 60 days after filing the Petition but are not filed with the court unless the divorce is contested; The Court only gets a 1-page statement, signed under penalty of perjury, that states the “Financial Disclosures” requirement was completed.

6.  After disclosures are exchanged between the parties, the settlement agreement is drafted. Once both parties have finalized the terms of the divorce, the agreement is signed by both parties (Respondent’s signature must be notarized).

7.     I prepare the final proposed judgement forms which are then filed with the court along with the attached marriage settlement agreement (MSA). Once submitted, the court review then takes about ~2.5 months. Once processed with the Court, the Court mail a “Request to Enter Default” to both parties indicating that a response (contesting the divorce) was not filed with the court, giving the respondent a final chance to do so.

8.  If the Court doesn’t hear from either party. After a few weeks the Court enters the final JUDGMENT OF DISSOLUTION and a “NOTICE OF ENTRY OF JUDGMENT” is sent to all parties.

I am not an attorney, This information is provided as a summary of the court process and procedures. None of this information is to be considered as legal advice.

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