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A dissolution of marriage, which is more commonly known as divorce,
terminates the marriage of the spouses and resolves issues between them,
including child custody, visitation, child support, spousal support, asset
and debt division, former name restoration, and even restraining orders.
A legal separation case is similar to a dissolution of marriage in terms
of the range of issues that are resolved in the case, except that the
parties remain married to each other.
A nullity case is more commonly known as an annulment of marriage. This
can only be requested based on one of reasons listed below.
For dissolution of
marriage or legal separation in California, there are only two legal
grounds. The first is "irreconcilable differences," meaning the marriage
cannot be saved. The other reason is "incurable insanity" which, unlike
irreconcilable differences, must be proven.
If you are seeking a
nullity of marriage, you will need to prove in a court hearing that your
marriage satisfies one of the grounds listed below. These must have
applied at the time you and your spouse married:
bigamy means a spouse was knowingly married to another living person at
the time of marriage.
force means threats or acts of harm were used to force one spouse into
fraud means deception regarding a significant matter that led to the
marriage and continued until the breakup.
incapacity means a spouse was and continues to be physically unable to
consummate the marriage.
the spouses are close blood relatives.
prior existing marriage means a spouse married on the mistaken belief
that his or her previous marriage had ended in the death of the other
spouse, who in fact was still living.
underage means a spouse was below age 18 years at the time of marriage
and did not obtain parental consent or a court order permitting the
unsound mind means a spouse could not and has not formed the intent to
marry due to a mental condition.
A dissolution action
may be started in Kings County if one or both spouses have resided in this
county for at least the last 3 months and in the state of California for
at least 6 months. Cases involving legal separation or nullity have less
strict residency requirements. For legal separation or nullity cases, one
or both spouses need only be a resident of this county at the time this
case is started. There is no duration of residency requirement
for these types of marital actions.
In addition to the
residency requirements for starting any type of marital action, there are
some additional rules to consider if the other spouse resides outside
California. Specifically, a spouse who lives in another state or country
can object to jurisdiction by the court in California. In that event,
this court may be prevented from making important orders in your case.
You should seek legal advice about how to proceed if the other spouse
lives outside California and is likely to object to having the case
Remember that merely
filing your petition and having it served does not automatically result in
a judgment. There are other steps you must take before this can happen.
The minimum length
of time it takes to acquire a final Judgment of Dissolution in order to be
free to marry once again is six months and one day from the date the
Respondent is served with the Summons and Petition, or, six months and a
day from the date the Respondent files a Response or Notice of General
Appearance with the court, whichever comes first. If the six-month period
passes before you are able to acquire your judgment, then the effective
date of your change in status from married to single is the date of entry
of the judgment.
The effective date
for legal separation or nullity is the day the judgment is entered, that
is, the day the judge signs the judgment.
Be aware that for
all types of martial actions the Judgment must be entered (formal Judgment
signed by the judge) before it is effective, not the day you signed an
agreement, or had a hearing or trial. The yellow paper you receive at the
hearing or trial is only the minutes of the proceeding. You must submit a
formal Judgment before it can be signed and entered.
It is strongly
suggested that you consult with a family law attorney so that you are
informed of your legal rights and the important legal issues in your case.
alternatives available to you in obtaining legal assistance include one or
more of the following:
You may contact an
attorney for legal advice or to represent you by looking in the
telephone book or. Many attorneys have a reasonable fee for an initial
You may represent
yourself; however, it is suggested that you review the following reference materials
Code of Civil Procedure
Court's Local Rules). The reference
materials are also available at the law library. The Court's local rules
can be purchased from the Court.
You may contact
the Family Law Facilitator for assistance.
The office of the Family Law Facilitator provides
assistance to persons without an attorney, in the area of Family Law. Click
I. What type of assistance is available?
The Family Law
Facilitator provides general procedural information concerning: divorce,
legal separation, nullity, child and family support, child custody and
visitation, establishment of parentage, and health insurance. The
Facilitator does not give legal advice or represent parties in Court.
II. What can I expect?
The Family Law
Facilitator operates on a first-come, first-serve basis. Customers are
encouraged to arrive as early as possible. Customers wishing to modify or
change any financial order must bring copies of their last three pay stubs
in order to receive assistance.
IV. What should I bring with me?
Each time you visit
the Office of the Family Law Facilitator, please remember to bring the
Your last three
Other income and
important court documents
Please click the
underlined wording for information on
Child Custody or Visitation Issues.
Your marriage does
not automatically end in six months. You will need to complete your
divorce and get your judgment either by default (when the other party does
not respond), by written agreement, or by trial.
Here are the most
common courses of action for various circumstances:
If other party did
not respond ("defaulted"), then see an attorney to prepare a judgment,
seek help from the Family Law Facilitator, or check the
Kings County Law
In the event you
and your spouse have an agreement on all issues (uncontested) in your
divorce, you can have an attorney prepare your agreement and judgment or
seek help in the Family Law Facilitator.
If either of the
following conditions pertain to your case, then it is suggested that you
consult with an attorney:
1) your spouse has
filed a response, there are contested issues, and you have no written
2) your spouse filed
the divorce, you responded, and your spouse refuses to finalize your
divorce whether or not there are contested issues.
recommended that you have a consultation with a family law attorney before
finalizing your divorce. You may have important legal rights regarding
spousal support, pensions or other deferred compensation, or other
property rights. It is your responsibility to know your rights before you
set your case for trial or you may lose those rights forever.
your documents for finalizing your divorce, you may deliver these
documents to the Family Law filing counter at 1426 South Drive, Hanford.
Your documents will be submitted to the appropriate family law department
for approval. After processing your judgment, the Notice of Entry of
Judgment will be completed by the department clerk and mailed to you or
your attorney. This is your proof that your divorce is final.
judgment is kept in the court file. If you are uncertain that your final
dissolution paperwork was submitted to the court, you must come to the
courthouse and check the court file. The court is unable to provide this
information over the telephone.
information on child custody mediation or evaluation, please see our page
Child Custody Mediation or Evaluation.
Family Law forms are
available for a fee of $20.00 at all of the clerk windows. You may
also click on the Form Number displayed in the table below, fill it out
online, and then print it off. However, you cannot save the form once
you have completed it.
The forms included
in the regular dissolution packet are:
Under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA)
Proof of Service
Appearance, Stipulations, and Waivers
Declaration Regarding Service of Declaration of
Assets and Debts
Expense Declaration (Income, Expense, & Child Support Information)
Request to Enter
Declaration for Default or Uncontested Dissolution or
Notice of Entry
Case Registry Form
Notice of Rights and Responsibilities (Information
sheet on changing a child support order)
Order/Notice to Withhold Income for Child Support
(Application & Order for Health Insurance)
Acknowledgment of Receipt
The forms included in the Summary
Dissolution packet are:
|Joint Petition for
Summary Dissolution of Marriage
|Request for Judgment,
Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage and Notice of Entry of Judgment
|Notice of Revocation of
Petition for Summary Dissolution
Family Law documents
may be filed in person or by mail. You must reserve all hearing dates in
advance of filing any documents. You may contact the calendar clerk at
(559) 582-1010 x 3078. Documents submitted through the mail will be must
also reserve a hearing date in advance. Please be advised of the following
when filing documents by mail:
Pleadings will not
be filed unless they comply with the
California Rules of Court Rules 201 and 501
which require that all documents presented for filing must be legible
and either typed or printed.
copies of documents filed will be returned by mail unless a
self-addressed stamped envelope, with sufficient postage, is provided.
presented for filing must be pre-punched in the standard two-hole
position at the top of the document.
submitted for filing without the total fee due will be returned unfiled.
Filings paid with
checks that are returned for non-sufficient funds will be void if not
paid by cash or certified check/money order within 20 days of
notification. (411.20 Code of Civil Procedure).
There is a fax
filing agency that is approved to submit papers to the court through the
use of a fax. You can call Official Payments Corporation at 800.487.4567
for more information.
For information on
Family Law Filing Fees, click
here to view the Court Schedule of
NOTICE: If you are unable to pay fees and costs, you may ask the court to
permit you to proceed without paying them. Check our page on
Fee Waivers and/or ask the clerk
for the Informational Sheet on Waiver of Court Fees and Costs and
Application for Waiver of Court Fees and Costs (Pursuant to Rule of Court
985(k)). You may also download the fee waiver forms at the
of California web site.
Please click on the
following link for information and instructions on obtaining
copies of judgments
and other Family Law documents.
information on Child Financial Support, please click