A Detailed Breakdown of the Divorce Procedure


Divorce is an emotionally challenging process that can be difficult to navigate. It’s important to understand the steps involved so that you can plan for the future and make informed decisions. We’ll explain the divorce procedure, including the legal requirements, paperwork, and other considerations you should be aware of. This will help you understand the process and make sure that you have all the necessary information before you start.

If you or your partner is a military member, make sure to hire the best military divorce lawyer in San Diego so that you receive the most accurate legal advice and the best possible outcome for your case.

What is a Petition for Dissolution?

One party must file a Petition for Dissolution to commence an action for divorce. The Petition is typically done on a form called FL-100.

The grounds for divorce in California must be “pleaded generally.” This means the grounds for divorce will be irreconcilable differences or the permanent legal incapacity of one spouse to make decisions. California is a “no-fault” state when it comes to dissolution. This means the court is not interested in and will disregard specific acts of misconduct by either spouse in your Petition.

What if there are children from the marriage?

When there are minor children of the parties’ relationship, a Declaration Under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) must be attached to the petition. The UCCJEA Declaration is done on a form called FL-105. This form requires you to specify the addresses where your children have lived, and with whom, for the most recent five years.

If you are in a situation that involves domestic violence or child abuse allegations, you can keep the addresses of you and your children confidential. To keep your address confidential, make sure to mark item number 2 on the UCCJEA Declaration along with the “confidential” checkboxes. 

What happens after the petition is filed?

After a Petition for Dissolution is filed with the court, the opposing party must be served with a copy of the Petition and Summons. The summons is done on FL-110 form.

Any person who is over the age of eighteen and is not a party to the action can serve the opposing party. You cannot serve the opposing party yourself. The opposing party usually must be served by “personal service.” Personal service is the actual physical delivery of the Summons and Petition.

However, if the opposing party does not accept the documents, the court will approve alternative means of service when appropriate. After the Petition and Summons are served on the opposing party, several automatic mutual restraining orders, also known as ATROs, are triggered.

Broadly, the ATROs prevent parties from removing minor children from the state, from moving around the property or making extraordinary expenditures, and from infringing upon the insurance benefits of the other party and children. 

How do you respond to a Petition?

If you have been served with a Summons and Petition for Dissolution, you have 30 days to file a response or file a notice of appearance. If you fail to file a responsive motion or pleading within 30 days, you will be in “default.”

If you are in default, the petitioner is entitled to move forward with the proceedings and attempt to obtain a default judgment against you. If you disagree with any of the allegations in the Petition, you MUST file a response to preserve your right to appear, present evidence, and make arguments to the court on the issue. The standard response form is the FL-120.

If you do not believe the Petition was filed in the proper jurisdiction, or if you believe you were not properly served, be sure to consult an attorney before filing a response or making an appearance in the case. When you file a response before you make a motion to strike or quash the proceeding, you waive the issues of personal jurisdiction and defective service of process.

Where can you find the best military divorce lawyer in San Diego & the nearby areas?

If you or your spouse is a member of the military, it’s best to consult a specialized military divorce lawyer who can answer all your specific questions, explain how different federal laws may impact your divorce, and assist you through the entire process.

At JWB Family Law, our military divorce attorneys are highly experienced in navigating the unique laws and regulations surrounding these divorces. We’ll work diligently to make sure you receive the best outcome for your situation and provide you with the support you need during this challenging chapter. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you and book a free consultation!


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San Diego, CA 92101

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