Unless you’ve been planning it for months, you probably aren’t familiar with the process of filing for divorce in San Joaquin County, California. Most people have no idea where to start—you might even think divorce laws are standardized across the US.
The truth is, every state and county has their own laws. Filing for divorce in San Joaquin County looks different than in Sacramento County, for example. The problem is that a divorce can be emotional and overwhelming, especially when you’re also juggling paperwork and deadlines.
That’s why we put together this complete guide on filing for divorce in San Joaquin County, CA. Read on to learn exactly what your next steps need to be.
How to File for Divorce in San Joaquin County
When you file for divorce in California, you become the “petitioner.” This just means you’re the spouse who initiated the divorce.
Filing for divorce is the first step in your divorce proceedings. You’ve still got a few steps before your spouse is legally your ex-spouse. You’ll need to round up the blank forms—also called divorce papers—relevant to your marriage.
But you’ll be glad to know your spouse doesn’t have to sign anything at this point. All you have to do is fill out the appropriate papers and file them with a California Superior Court. Keep in mind there’s usually a fee for filing divorce papers, but you can request to have them waived.
Hand your completed paperwork to the court clerk for their review. If everything is filled out correctly, they’ll stamp your papers with the time and date. Then you’ll receive copies, which have to be delivered to your spouse.
At this point, you’ve officially filed for divorce in San Joaquin County.
Where Can You Get San Joaquin County Divorce Papers?
You can get San Joaquin County divorce papers from the California Courts website. Even though divorce laws vary between each CA county, basic divorce papers are the same statewide.
The most important thing is making sure you fill out all necessary documents. This can be tricky without a skilled California divorce attorney by your side. In all divorces, 4 pieces of paperwork are needed:
- Proof of Service of Summons
- Property Declaration
If you two have children who are still minors, you’ll also need:
- Declaration Under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act
- Child Custody and Visitation Application Attachment
One of the many benefits of hiring an experienced divorce attorney is that you can rest easy. Every “t” will be crossed and every “i” will be dotted. When you try to manage all the paperwork yourself, it’s normal to worry over missing a document or filling out a field incorrectly.
Basically, take your time on this paperwork if you’re shooting for a DIY divorce. Mistakes at this stage can be very costly down the road.
Where Do You File for Divorce in San Joaquin County?
In San Joaquin County, you file for divorce through the Superior Court of California. There are 4 different locations where you can file:
- Stockton: 180 E. Weber Ave, Stockton, CA, 95202
- Lodi: 315 W Elm St, Lodi, CA, 95240
- Manteca: 315 E. Center St, Manteca, CA, 95336
- Juvenile Justice Center: 535 W. Mathews Rd, French Camp, CA, 95231
Each location’s hours vary depending on the day of the week and federal holidays.
If you’re handling the divorce paperwork yourself, double-check the opening hours before you visit. If you’re working with a knowledgeable San Joaquin divorce attorney, they’ll help coordinate filing all paperwork properly.
What Happens After Divorce Papers are Filed in California?
After divorce papers are filed with the court in California, you have several steps ahead of you:
By law, you must formally notify your spouse/domestic partner. This is known as “serving papers.” But it’s not as simple as mailing them paperwork. Another adult who isn’t you must hand a copy of the filed paperwork to your spouse.
Once this person—called the “server”—hands off the paperwork, they complete and file a form with the court. The form is proof of your spouse receiving divorce papers. Your spouse has 30 days to respond by filing paperwork with the court.
If they don’t file a response, you can ask the court to make a verdict without your spouse’s input. This is known as a “default.” If they do, you’ll be “served papers” of their response.
2. Exchange Information
Once the divorce papers and response have been served, you’re both required to share financial info. This stage is known as “financial disclosure” or just “disclosure.” Each of you fills out forms to show what you earn, spend, owe, and own. You’ll exchange these forms and a few other financial documents.
3. Make Decisions
With this information in hand, you start divvying up debts, property, and everything else equally. You’ll also start to make decisions about child and/or spousal support.
To be clear, you don’t have to sit down with your spouse to work all this out. Your divorce lawyer can manage a lot of the back-and-forth and make sure you get what’s rightfully yours. This process can also happen via phone or email to simplify things.
Once you reach an agreement, the details will be written down and recorded. But if your spouse has refused to respond or take part in any way, you can make choices without them. You and your lawyer can explain to the court, in writing, what you want.
Approval lies with the courts, but it’s often far easier than communicating with an unresponsive spouse.
It’s also possible that you two can’t come to an agreement, even with the help of an attorney. In this case, you’ll go to trial and a judge will make all final verdicts.
4. Divorce is Finalized
One final round of paperwork is needed to complete your divorce. Any court orders or agreements will be included. The court reviews all submissions to ensure there aren’t any errors or missing information.
If everything looks good, a judge signs your final form, also called your divorce judgment. They’ll also formally record the date your domestic partnership or marriage ends.
Talk with a San Joaquin County, CA Divorce Attorney
Were you surprised by or unfamiliar with any of these documents? Most people don’t think about all the inner workings of filing divorce papers until it’s a last resort. You aren’t alone if you thought filing for divorce in San Joaquin County would be simple and easy. After all, who doesn’t want to move on quickly from their ex-spouse?
Truthfully, a lot goes into divorce paperwork. Children, property, and assets make the process more complicated. Doing it all on your own isn’t easy—we know because we’ve seen it all.
Call us today to speak with an experienced, skilled San Joaquin County divorce attorney and protect your best interests. Just dial (209) 474-2400 now to get the help you need.