Responding to a Spousal/Partner Support Request

If you have been served with papers that ask the court to issue an order about spousal or partner support, you should respond if you want to have input into the final decision.


Click on the topic below that best describes your situation to get more information about how to respond.


If You Received a Request for Order (Form FL-300)

If you received a Request for Order (Form FL-300) together with attachments explaining what your spouse or domestic partner is requesting:

  • Carefully read the papers you received to make sure you understand what your spouse or domestic partner is asking for.
  • Note the date, time, and location of the court hearing. They are listed on the first page of the Request for Order . It is very important that you go to this court hearing.
  • You must respond if you want the court to know what your position is. If you do not respond, the court may make orders about spousal or partner support based on your spouse’s or partner’s estimate of your income and without taking into account your individual situation.
  • Even if you do not respond, go to the court hearing and bring proof of your income and expenses if you want to have any input in the court’s decision about spousal or partner support.


To respond, you must:

1. Fill out your court forms
Fill out:

2. Have your forms reviewed
 Ask your court’s family law facilitator to review your paperwork. The facilitator can make sure you filled it out properly before you move ahead with your case. 

3. Make at least 2 copies of all your forms
 One copy will be for you; another copy will be for your spouse or partner. The original is for the court.

4. File your forms with the court clerk
You will not have to pay a filing fee to file the Responsive Declaration. But if you have never filed any papers in this case, you may have to pay a fee for what is called a “first appearance,” which, in general, everyone has to pay when they file court papers in a case for the first time. If you do have to pay a fee for this and you cannot afford it, you can ask for a fee waiver.

5. Serve your papers on your spouse or domestic partner
Serve a copy of the Responsive Declaration to Request for Order (Form FL-320), and any other papers you attached, on your spouse or partner at least 9 days before the hearing. You can have your papers served by mail or in person. If you have your papers served by mail, you must do it at least 14 days before the hearing.

You can have this form served on your spouse or partner before the clerk stamps it — just make sure you do not serve the original. Find out more about “service of process.”

6. File your proof of service
Have the server (person who served your papers) fill out a Proof of Service. The server should fill out Proof of Personal Service (Form FL-330) if he or she served the papers in person. Or fill out Proof of Service by Mail (Form FL-335) if he or she served your papers by mail.

Then, file the proof of service form with the clerk. (If you had your spouse or partner served with an unstamped copy of the Responsive Declaration, you can file the original of the Responsive Declaration together with the Proof of Service.)

7. Go to your court hearing
Go to the hearing scheduled on the Request for Order (Form FL-300). Go to court even if you did not have time to fill out and file a Responsive Declaration or other papers. If you do not go, the judge can make a spousal or partner support order without your input.

Read Going to Court to find out how to prepare for your court hearing.

If You Received a Domestic Violence Restraining Order With a Spousal or Partner Support Request (Forms DV-100, DV-105, DV-109, and DV-110)

Carefully read the papers you received to make sure you understand what your spouse or partner is asking for.

  • Note the date, time, and location of the court hearing. They are listed on the first page of the Notice of Hearing (Form DV-109). It is very important you go to this court hearing if you want to participate in the case.
  • You must respond if you want the court to know what your position is. If you do not respond, the court may make orders about spousal or partner support (and the restraining order) without taking into account your position.
  • Read How Can I Respond to a Request for Domestic Violence Restraining Order? (Form DV-120-INFO) or watch this instructional video  to get information about what to do.
  • Even if you do not respond, go to the court hearing and bring proof of your income and expenses if you want to have any input in the court’s decision about spousal or partner support.

To respond, you must:

1. Fill out your court forms
Fill out:

2. Have your forms reviewed
Ask your court’s family law facilitator to review your paperwork. The facilitator may not be able to help you with the restraining order part of the case, but he or she can help you with the forms that relate to your spousal or partner support. He or she can make sure you filled them out properly before you move ahead with your case.

3. Make at least 2 copies of all your forms
One copy will be for you; another copy will be for your spouse or partner. The original is for the court.

4. File your forms with the court clerk
The clerk will keep the original and return the copies to you. One is for you. The second copy is for your spouse or partner.

5.  Serve your papers on your spouse or domestic partner
Serve a copy of the Response to Request for Domestic Violence Restraining Order (Form DV-120 | video instructions ) and your other forms on your spouse or partner.

These papers can be served by mail. Find out more about “service of process.”You can have this form served before the clerk stamps it — just make sure you do not serve the original. The number of days you have to serve your Answer varies. Look at the second page of the Notice of Court Hearing (Form DV-109), under the title “To the Person in 2,” and it will tell you when you have to serve your Answer by.  

6. File your proof of service
Have your server fill out a Proof of Service by Mail (CLETS) (Form DV-250) and give it to you so you can file it with the court. It is very important your server fills out the Proof of Service correctly. If possible, have your family law facilitator review it to make sure it was filled out properly.

File the Proof of Service with the clerk. (If you had your spouse or partner served with an unstamped copy of the Answer to Temporary Restraining Order, you can file the original of the Answer together with the Proof of Service.)

7.  Go to your court hearing
Go to the hearing scheduled on the Notice of Court Hearing (Form DV-109). Go to court even if you did not have time to fill out and file an Answer to Temporary Restraining Order. If you do not go, the judge can issue the restraining order against you for 3 years or more, and can make a spousal or partner support order without your input.

Read Going to Court to find out how to prepare for your court hearing.

If You and Your Spouse or Domestic Partner Have an Agreement on Spousal or Partner Support

The procedure for writing up your spousal or partner support agreement and getting a judge’s signature so that it becomes a court order may be a little different from court to court.

Spouses or domestic partners can agree to a spousal or partner support order. By agreeing and signing a written agreement (a stipulation), they do not have to go in front of a judge and leave the decision up to him or her.

  • The family law facilitator  in your court can help you work out a spousal or partner support agreement and write up the agreement.


To write up a spousal or partner support agreement:

1. Inform yourself about your rights and responsibilities about spousal or partner support
Before you sign an agreement with your spouse or domestic partner about spousal/partner support (whether you will be paying it, getting it, or agreeing to no support), you should understand how spousal/partner support works and what your rights are. That way, when you write up and sign your agreement, you are fully informed.

  • Ask the family law facilitator in your court for help understanding spousal or partner support. He or she may also be able to help you mediate with your spouse or partner and may even write up your agreement for you.


2. Decide on an amount and the duration of spousal/partner support
Once you understand spousal or partner support, you and your spouse or partner must agree on:

  • An amount (or no amount, if you agree that no one will pay spousal/partner support to the other);
  • The duration of the support payments — how long the payments will last; and
  • How the payments will be made — directly between the 2 of you or by wage garnishment (earnings assignment).


3. Consider other issues to see if you can agree to those as well.
As part of your divorce or legal separation, the court will decide other issues like property and debt division or, if you have children, child support and custody and visitation of the children. Consider working on an agreement about these issues too.


4. Write up your agreement
There is no court form for a spousal or partner support agreement (also called a “stipulation”). You have to write up your own or include the spousal/partner support order in your overall marital/partnership settlement agreement or stipulated settlement for your divorce, if you have one. You can use the Spousal, Partner, or Family Support Order Attachment (Form FL-343) as an attachment to your agreement. This form includes a lot of details that you should include in your order.

Make sure you use the right case number for your agreement, which will be the case number of your divorce or legal separation case.

  • Ask the family law facilitator in your court if you need help writing up your agreement. Or, if you wrote it up on your own, have the facilitator review it to make sure you filled it out correctly.


5. Sign your agreement
Both you and your spouse or domestic partner must sign the agreement or stipulation. Make sure you understand it and that you are signing it voluntarily and are not being pressured or forced to agree.
     

6. Turn in your agreement/stipulation to the court for the judge to sign
Find out from the court clerk if you need to make copies ahead of time and turn them in with the original or just turn in the original and make copies after. The procedures for how to do this will be a little different from court to court, so make sure you find out from the clerk what to do and when you should return to pick up your papers.

  • If you are agreeing to have the spousal or partner support paid by wage garnishment, also turn in an Earnings Assignment Order for Spousal or Partner Support (Form FL-435).


7. File your agreement/stipulation after the judge signs it
After the judge has signed the agreement/stipulation, file the original with the court clerk (after making copies if you did not already make them). The clerk will keep the original and stamp your copies “Filed” and return them to you. One copy will be for you; the other will be for your spouse or domestic partner.

  • Also file the Earnings Assignment Order for Spousal or Partner Support (Form FL-435) if you turned in one.


8. Send the Earnings Assignment Order to the obligor’s employer
If you agreed to have the obligor’s (person paying support) wages garnished, send a copy of the filed Earnings Assignment Order for Spousal or Partner Support (Form FL-435) to his or her employer.

If You Got Papers With No Court Hearing Scheduled

If you were served with court papers that did not have a court hearing scheduled, you probably received 1 of the following:

All these papers are a way of starting a family law case. In general, once you are served with these papers, you have 30 days to file a response with the court. If you do nothing, after 30 days the court can make orders about spousal or partner support (and other issues on those papers, like child support, custody and visitation, or property) without hearing your side of the story.

Get detailed instructions on how to respond to a Petition — Marriage (Form FL-100) or Petition — Domestic Partnership/Marriage (Form FL-103).

Sometimes, you are served with 1 of these papers to start a case as well as a Request for Order setting up a court hearing. In that case, fill out the proper response form to a Petition, as well as the forms to respond to the Request for Order. Click for the steps to respond to the Request for Order (Form FL-300).

Site Map | Careers | Contact Us | Accessibility | Public Access to Records | Terms of Use | Privacy