Divorce Requirements

There are two main things you need to do to complete your divorce. For most couples, neither is easy. First, and more important, you need to make and document all the decisions required for your separation. Second, various complicated forms and documents need to be filed with and accepted by the court. For answers to common questions about the requirements for getting a divorce, see faqs – divorce process.


judge divorce legal requirementsFor couples with minor children these decisions include:

For all couples decisions are required as regards:

For more detail on the decisions that need to be made, see divorce decisions.  For a summary of the different ways you can go about making them, see divorce approaches.

Court Forms

california divorce book 2016Some people figure out how to file all the required forms on their own. The court has a web site and physical self-help centers at many court houses that can help with this. Other people engage legal document assistants, paralegals, online services or lawyers to fill out the forms. The requirements are exacting and the implications are significant so considerable care should be taken. If you are interested in doing as much of your divorce as possible on your own, a great book is: “How to Do Your Own Divorce in California in 2016” by Ed Sherman.


There are four basic procedural requirements or steps in filing for and obtaining a divorce in California:

  1. File the petition for divorce;
  2. Serve the petition on your spouse. Your spouse can then choose whether or not to file a response;
  3. Disclose financial information to each other using court forms;
  4. File a judgment package of form and documents containing all your agreements or have a trial (the exact actions depend on whether your spouse filed a response and whether the two of you are able to come to agreement on all the issues).

This simplifies what is required. For more details, see how to get a divorce, Ed Sherman’s book above or the court’s web site.