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Filing for Divorce in Fresno

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Filing Divorce Papers in Fresno

What do you do? Where do you start?

Whether this is your first time considering the notion of the divorce, or you’re ready to begin the process, the idea of taking the necessary steps to file for divorce is overwhelming and confusing, especially since it comes with a host of emotions that have nothing to do with filling out paperwork. It is even more difficult if you and your spouse have not mutually agreed to go through with it.

The reality is that you’re about to embark on a journey that may be the most difficult thing you have ever done, but it also just may be the best thing. You don’t have to be ready to officially go down this road, but we want to help you weed through the confusing legal jargon so that you can understand just what you would need to do to get the ball rolling.

First and foremost, you don’t have to do this alone. Arnold Law Group, APC can walk you through every step of the legal process as a knowledgeable, compassionate advocate and let you worry about what is most important to you and your family during this time. Serving Madera, Kings, and Tulare counties.

Where and What Do I File?

If you and your spouse have lived in Fresno for at least three months, and have been California residents for at least six months, you will be filing your divorce papers with the Fresno County Superior Court. It’s located at 1130 O Street by the Eaton Plaza.

If you are filing alone, the documents you will need to complete include:

  • Summons (FL-110) – This is a notice to your spouse that you are filing for divorce, “summoning” them to respond
  • Petition (FL-100) – This is a notice to the courts that you are filing for divorce
  • Declaration Under UCCJEA (Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act) (FL-105) – This is only necessary if you and your spouse have minor children, and its purpose is to ensure all children are accounted for in custody arrangements
  • Declaration of Disclosure (FL-140) – This is to legally verify that you have disclosed any and all assets through the following two forms.
  • Schedule of Assets and Debts (FL-142) – This is where you will disclose all of your assets and debts
  • Income and Expense Declaration (FL-150) – This is where you disclose all of your income sources and average monthly expenses
  • Proof of Service of Summons (FL 115) – This is a notice to the courts that your spouse has been served your summons. You cannot personally serve your spouse; a third party over the age of 18 must serve these papers. He or she will complete this form.
  • Response (FL 120) – This will be completed by your spouse after he or she has been served

You can find these forms on the website of the Fresno Superior Court, along with step-by-step instructions for completing each one. Of course, one of our divorce lawyers can also walk you through each form to make sure there are no errors that might cause headaches later.

How Do I Serve My Spouse Divorce Papers?

Now that you’ve gotten through the first rough step of completing all of this paperwork, the next step is possibly even harder. Not “hard” in the “I have a daunting amount of work to do” kind of way, but in the more emotionally trying sense of the term. Even though your divorce won’t be final until the judgement papers have been signed, sealed, and delivered, this step is often the one that there’s no coming back from. Don’t let this deter you, however, as you’ve gotten this far for a reason and you know it’s for the best.


So how do you go about getting your divorce papers served to your spouse?


Anyone – other than yourself – who is over the age of 18 can serve your spouse the papers, including a friend or family member. What if you aren’t ready to tell anyone? What if you don’t want to put anyone who may have a mutual investment in both you and your spouse in the middle of it all? You can hire a law enforcement officer or process server to deliver the papers.

What if My Spouse Won’t “Sign the Papers?”

If you’re here, you know by now that life doesn’t always work out the way it’s depicted in movies. The concept of “refusing to sign the divorce papers” is as romanticized as “happily ever after.” It is true that you and your spouse both have to be on board and sign the papers in order to pursue an uncontested divorce, however, your spouse does not actually have to participate in a divorce. It will simply be considered a contested divorce and follow a different process.

California is a “no fault” state, which means you don’t have to cite a reason for filing for divorce – which also means your spouse cannot refute it. By petitioning for a divorce without your spouse and serving the papers, you have already begun the process and have legally required your spouse to respond by a certain date. If he or she does not respond by the time specified, the divorce will actually be granted by default.

At that time, your spouse will have the opportunity to get involved and participate in the proceedings, but ultimately, if you legally pursue a divorce, your spouse cannot keep you from getting it.

Unfortunately, this is only the beginning. While some people are able to communicate, collaborate, and negotiate their way through a smooth and steady divorce, others find the process much more difficult. What comes next will depend on your openness and your ability to keep a cool head – both of which, we understand, will be very difficult.

That’s where we come in. While you may be able to represent yourself throughout the process, you might find it difficult to take a rational approach among the flurry of emotions involved. Having a legal advocate, who both knows what is necessary and understands the emotional toll it takes, can help you make sound, informed decisions. Going it alone is not recommended.

Let our Fresno divorce attorneys help make this process as seamless as possible. For more information or further assistance with taking the first steps, you can consult with a member of Arnold Law Group.