Do It Yourself Divorce in California

Do It Yourself Divorce
in California

The decision to get a divorce is not an easy one at all. Most people imagine the divorce process as a drama with lots of court hearings, lawyers, and so on. However, that is not the case, at least with most couples.

If partners are on the same page, they can have an uncontested divorce. It is the easiest and least stressful process. What’s more, it can be quite cheap as well.

DIY divorces are becoming more popular, and this article provides you with tips on how to go through a do-it-yourself divorce in California.

How To Do-It-Yourself: Uncontested Divorce

The DIY approach is most applicable to an uncontested divorce. Such a divorce means that both spouses can resolve their disagreements and come to terms regarding important issues such as child custody, child support, alimony (spousal support), asset allocation, etc.

That is why the first step is to talk with the other spouse. After discussion and agreeing on all the terms, spouses can begin preparing for a divorce without a lawyer in California. However, there are some procedural specifics partners should know.

Residency Requirements

First of all, it is crucial to determine whether a person is eligible for a divorce. California family law states that spouses have to meet residency requirements:

  • One of the spouses has to live within the state of at least six months prior to filing;
  • One of the spouses has to live within the county where divorce papers are filed for three months.

Filing Your DIY Divorce Forms For Free

The divorce process begins with documents. It is possible to acquire divorce papers for free at the Judicial Branch of California website. Download the relevant divorce documents and fill them out properly.

It is imperative to make sure that everything is written without a single mistake. If the county clerk spots any typos in the papers, you will have to fill them out again, so keep that in mind.

Filing Fees

The filing fee for a divorce in California is $435. Divorce proceedings begin after spouses pay it.

Serving Divorce Papers To Your Spouse

The plaintiff should make several copies of the paperwork. The copies will be needed for serving. California State family law requires the petitioner to notify the responding spouse. Personal notification is prohibited, but there are two ways to serve the documents:

  • Service by mail;
  • Service by a third party (plaintiff sends a person older than 18 to serve the papers to the defendant).

Court Orders

After the petitioner files for divorce or legal separation, they can request temporary court orders to be applied.

Court orders usually address things like temporary custody of children, visitation schedules, child support, spousal support, and so on. There are also court orders regarding the temporary use of the joint property until the divorce is finalized.

Financial Disclosures

California family law requires mandatory financial disclosures during proceedings such as divorce, legal separation, and nullity cases. Both spouses have to provide information to each other regarding their income, expenditures, and debts.

Financial disclosure is required because the court will not provide a final judgment for the divorce case without it.

There are several ways to get required forms for financial disclosures:

  • Use services of an attorney;
  • Get forms online via the Judicial Branch of California website;
  • Get forms from the Self Help Center or Family Law Facilitator’s Office in person;
  • Use the services of an online divorce company and get ready-to-file forms.


Mediation is highly effective if a couple has trouble resolving important issues such as spousal support, child custody, etc.

This approach to conflict resolution can be used at any stage of the divorce process, allowing partners to proceed with an uncontested divorce.

The mediation process is rather straightforward. A couple hires a professional mediator - a person with legal background and experience who is neutral (does not represent any side). This person listens to both sides and navigates them through their differences to reach an agreement.

The costs of mediation in California may vary depending on the type of mediation that is used:

  • Private mediation with a professional;
  • Mediation that the court sponsors;
  • Community mediation.

The cost of the first option depends on the rates of a private mediator and can range from $3,000 to $8,000. This option may sound quite expensive, but it is way cheaper than a contested divorce involving lawyers on both sides.

The second option is free and is provided by the local court.

The third option can be free or quite cheap. Spouses can employ a local non-profit community organization.

Online Do-It-Yourself Divorce

Online divorce does not mean that you can complete the whole process from your home. Instead, this term refers to hiring a company that assists you with preparing all the required divorce documentation.

It is an excellent option for couples aiming at a DIY divorce scenario. Divorce papers are often a barrier for couples who do not have a legal background. However, an online divorce company can solve this issue.

All spouses need is to go through a questionnaire so the platform can identify the specifics of the case. Then, partners are provided with ready-to-sign divorce papers and a step-by-step filing guide!

Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions

How to prepare divorce documents yourself?

You can get all the divorce documents at the Judicial Branch of California website. However, a better option is to hire an online divorce company. This way, you’ll get all the required papers without unnecessary hassle.

How to file divorce papers yourself?

You can file papers with the local county clerk. However, be sure that papers are properly filled out. If there are typos, you will have to fill out and file the divorce papers again.

How to submit divorce papers to court?

Contact the clerk in the county’s court where the residency requirements are met. They will stamp your papers and register your case. The next step is to serve documents to the defendant and receive a confirmation of service. Then you need to provide the court with the confirmation.

How much does a do-it-yourself divorce cost?

You can receive ready-to-sign forms for a mere $159 if you use online tools. The California filing fee is $435. However, you can apply for a waiver and file for free if the court accepts your request. The cost of service depends on what option you choose.
Here’s how our process works.
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Qualify for divorce1
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