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Divorce/Legal Separation/Annulment

Type of Case
 

Grounds for Termination of Marriage
 

Jurisdiction
 

Time Frame for Termination of Marriage
 

How to File for a Divorce
 

Dissolution of Domestic Partnership, Legal Separation for Domestic Partnership, or Nullity of Domestic Partnership Packet Cover Sheet
if you are in a registered Domestic Partnership Relationship and you want to dissolve, legally separate or annul that relationship
.

Dissolution of Marriage, Legal Separation, or Nullity of Marriage Packet Cover Sheet
if you are married and you want to file for a divorce, legal separation or annulment
.

Family Law Facilitator's Office
 

Child Custody
 

Finalizing Your Divorce
 

Child Custody Mediation
 

Forms
 

Filing Documents and Filing Fees
 

Obtaining Copies of Documents
 

Financial Support
 

Return to the Family & Children Main Page

 

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Type of Case

Dissolution of Marriage (Divorce): 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.

Legal Separation: 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.

Nullity: A nullity case is more commonly known as an annulment of marriage.  This can only be requested based on one of reasons listed below.

Grounds for Termination of Marriage

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: bigamy means a spouse was knowingly married to another living person at the time of marriage.

  • Force: force means threats or acts of harm were used to force one spouse into the marriage.

  • Fraud: fraud means deception regarding a significant matter that led to the marriage and continued until the breakup.

  • Incapacity: incapacity means a spouse was and continues to be physically unable to consummate the marriage.

  • Incest: incest means the spouses are close blood relatives.
  • Prior Existing Marriage: 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: 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 marriage. 
  • Unsound Mind: unsound mind means a spouse could not and has not formed the intent to marry due to a mental condition.

Jurisdiction

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 handled here.

Time Frame for Termination of Marriage

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.

How to File for a Divorce

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.

The basic alternatives available to you in obtaining legal assistance include one or more of the following:

  1. 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 consultation.
  2. You may represent yourself; however, it is suggested that you review the following reference materials (Family Codes, Code of Civil Procedure and the 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.
  3. You may contact the Family Law Facilitator for assistance.

 

Family Law Facilitator's Office

The office of the Family Law Facilitator provides assistance to persons without an attorney, in the area of Family Law. Click here to view the Facilitatorís schedule.

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 following items:

  • Your last three pay stubs
  • Picture identification
  • Other income and expense information
  • Copies of important court documents
  • Stamps and envelopes

 

Child Custody

Please click the underlined wording for information on Child Custody or Visitation Issues.

Finalizing Your Divorce

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 Library.
  • 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 agreement; or

2) your spouse filed the divorce, you responded, and your spouse refuses to finalize your divorce whether or not there are contested issues.

We highly 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.

After completing 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. 

The original 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.  

Child Custody Mediation

For detailed information on child custody mediation or evaluation, please see our page on Child Custody Mediation or Evaluation.

Forms

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:

Form Number

Form Name

FL100

Petition

FL105

Declaration Under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA)

FL110

Summons

FL115

Proof of Service of Summons

FL120

Response

FL130

Appearance, Stipulations, and Waivers

FL140

Declaration of Disclosure

FL141

Declaration Regarding Service of Declaration of Disclosure

FL142

Schedule of Assets and Debts

FL150

Income and Expense Declaration (Income, Expense, & Child Support Information)

FL160

Property Declaration

FL161

Continuation of Property Declaration

FL165

Request to Enter Default

FL170

Declaration for Default or Uncontested Dissolution or Legal Separation

FL180

Judgment

FL190

Notice of Entry of Judgment

FL191

Child Support Case Registry Form

FL192

Notice of Rights and Responsibilities (Information sheet on changing a child support order)

FL195

Order/Notice to Withhold Income for Child Support (Application & Order for Health Insurance)

FL117

Notice and Acknowledgment of Receipt

The forms included in the Summary Dissolution packet are:

Form Number

Form Name

FL800

Joint Petition for Summary Dissolution of Marriage

FL810

Summary Dissolution Information Packet

FL820

Request for Judgment, Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage and Notice of Entry of Judgment

FL830

Notice of Revocation of Petition for Summary Dissolution

 

Filing Documents and Filing Fees

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.
  • No conformed copies of documents filed will be returned by mail unless a self-addressed stamped envelope, with sufficient postage, is provided.
  • All papers presented for filing must be pre-punched in the standard two-hole position at the top of the document.
  •  Documents 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 Fees.
 
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 Judicial Council of California web site.

  • Click here to download the Informational Sheet on Waiver of Court Fees and Costs.

  • Click here to download the Application for Waiver of Court Fees and Costs.

Obtaining Copies of Documents

Please click on the following link for information and instructions on obtaining copies of judgments and other Family Law documents.

Financial Supports

For detailed information on Child Financial Support, please click here.

 

 
Superior Court of California, Kings County
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