In your agreement, you can both agree to end your marriage or domestic partnership. You can also reach an agreement about:
How to divide your property and your debt;
Whether anyone will pay the other spousal or partner support; and
If you have children together, what child support and custody and visitation orders you want.
You need to have your written agreement notarized. Make sure, when you sign the agreement, that you understand everything you are agreeing to. This type of agreement is often called a “marital settlement agreement” or MSA.
For some issues, like child support, when you have an agreement you have to meet certain legal requirements, so make sure you follow the rules. Read about child support agreements. And keep in mind that, if 1 of the spouses or domestic partners gets public assistance and the local child support agency (LCSA) is involved (or if the LCSA filed a child support case at the request of 1 of the parents), the LCSA will have to sign off on any agreement that includes child support.
You should also get more information about spousal or partner support and custody and visitation agreements. You can get some information on this website. Click on the topic that you are interested in:
If you have questions or want to make sure the agreement is in your best interest (and that of your children if you have children), talk to a lawyer before you sign it. Click for help finding a lawyer.
If your court’s family law facilitator or self-help center helps with divorces, ask them for help too. Even if they cannot help you with the divorce itself, they may be able to help you with parts of it, like the child support and spousal or partner support.
Fill Out Your Final Forms
As the petitioner, you must turn in the final forms to the court asking for a judgment of divorce or legal separation. You must also include the other orders you want the court to make about property and debt, spousal or partner support, and, if you have children with your spouse or domestic partner, about custody, visitation, and child support.
You CANNOT file these final forms until at least 30 days have passed since you served your spouse or domestic partner with your summons and petition.
Fill out your court forms Fill out these forms:
Request to Enter Default (Form FL-165) or an Appearance, Stipulations, and Waivers (Form FL-130). With Form FL-130, the respondent may have to pay a filing fee. If the respondent cannot afford the filing fee, he or she can ask for a fee waiver.
Declaration for Default or Uncontested Dissolution or Legal Separation (Form FL-170).
The written, notarized agreement between the spouses or domestic partners, agreeing on the terms of divorce or separation, and attach this to the Judgment.
The final Declaration Regarding Service of Declaration of Disclosure (Form FL-141). Or if you agree to waive (skip) the final declaration of disclosure, a Stipulation and Waiver of Final Declaration of Disclosure (Form FL-144). Follow the instructions below for completing a final declaration of disclosure. You can also get a court order waiving receipt of the other party’s final declaration of disclosure.
If you are asking for custody orders, you can fill out any of the forms that may apply to your case Fill out the forms that apply, if any, and attach to your Judgment (Form FL-180):
Child Custody and Visitation Order Attachment (Form FL-341).
Notice of Rights and Responsibilities — Health-Care Costs and Reimbursement Procedures and Information Sheet on Changing a Child Support Order (Form FL-192) (there is nothing to fill out with this form, but read it carefully).
Income Withholding for Support (Form FL-195) (if you want your spouse’s or domestic partner’s wages garnished for child support). You can use the Income Withholding for Support - Instructions (Form FL-196). When filling out Form FL-195, make sure to only write the last 4 digits of the social security number of the person ordered to pay support – the law requires it to protect their privacy.
Child support can become complicated. Talk to the family law facilitator in your court for help with these forms and any questions you may have.
If you are asking for spousal or partner support, fill out the applicable forms Fill out the forms that apply, if any, and attach to your Judgment (Form FL-180):
Spousal, Partner, or Family Support Order Attachment (Form FL-343).
Earnings Assignment Order for Spousal or Partner Support (Form FL-435) (only if you are NOT also asking for child support). If you are asking for child support, you can include the spousal or partner support information for wage garnishments in Form FL-195. When filling out Form FL-435 or FL-195, make sure to only write the last 4 digits of the social security number of the person ordered to pay support – the law requires it to protect their privacy.
Spousal or partner support can become complicated. Talk to the family law facilitator in your court for help with these forms and any questions you may have.
If you are asking for an order dividing your community property and debt, fill out the applicable forms Fill out the forms that apply, if any, and attach to your Judgment (Form FL-180):
Pension Benefits — Attachment to Judgment (Form FL-348) (if you or your spouse or domestic partner has a pension plan). And read Retirement Plan Joinder — Information Sheet (Form FL-318-INFO) to find out if you need to join the pension plan to your divorce case and how to do that. Read the section on Property and Debt for more information on pension plans.
Property issues can become complicated. Talk to a lawyer for help with these forms and any questions you may have. If the family law facilitator or self-help center in your court helps with property issues in divorce cases, you can also talk to them. You can also get more information by reading the section on Property and Debt.
Fill out local forms, if required Some courts ask you to fill out local forms. Contact your court clerk’s office, check your court’s website, or talk to your family law facilitator or self-help center to ask about your court’s local forms that you must complete for default cases.
Have your forms reviewed Ask your court’s family law facilitator or self-help center to review your paperwork. They can make sure you filled it out properly before you move ahead with your case.
You can also hire your own lawyer to review your papers or to get legal advice, either with your entire divorce case, or just the parts of it that you may need more help with (called “limited scope representation” or “unbundling”). Click for help finding a lawyer. Click to learn more about “limited scope representation.”
Make at least 2 copies of all your forms Make sure you include all the attachments and, if any are double-sided, that you photocopy both sides. One copy will be for you; another copy will be for your spouse or domestic partner. The original is for the court.
Turn in all your forms to the court clerk, with 2 large envelopes (with postage) Turn in your forms to the court clerk. The clerk will process your paperwork and give it to a judge to review.
Make sure you have already filed the Proof of Service of Summons (Form FL-115) (or file it now) AND the Declaration Regarding Service of Declaration of Disclosure (Form FL-141).
If all of the judgment documents are completed correctly, the judge will sign the Judgment without either named spouse or domestic partner having to appear in court.
If there is a problem with the documents, a court appearance may be necessary. Or you may just need to fix a mistake on your paperwork.
You receive your final judgment A court clerk will mail the Judgment and Notice of Entry of Judgment to each spouse or domestic partner, with the date that the judgment was filed stamped in the upper right corner.
Keep a copy of these forms in a safe place. You may need them in the future.
Completing the Final Declaration of Disclosure
You and your spouse or domestic partner may each have to prepare and serve a final Declaration of Disclosure at the end of your case. The final Declaration of Disclosure will use the same forms as the preliminary declaration and must have complete, up-to-date information.
You do NOT have to file a final Declaration of Disclosure if:
You and your spouse or domestic partner agree in writing to waive (skip) your final declarations of disclosure;
You get a court order waiving receipt of your spouse’s or domestic partner’s declaration of disclosure; OR
Your spouse or domestic partner has not filed a response to your petition for divorce AND your spouse or domestic partner has not signed a written and notarized agreement and/or a stipulated judgment.
If you both want to waive your final Declaration of Disclosure, you can use the Stipulation and Waiver of Final Declaration of Disclosure (Form FL-144). If you do not use this form, make sure your written agreement has very specific language about the waiver.
If you DO need to prepare a final declaration of disclosure, fill out:
Declaration of Disclosure (Form FL-140), which is a cover sheet for your declaration of disclosure;