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California Divorce Basics

CALIFORNIA is a no-fault state, so if one party wants out of the marriage, the marriage will be dissolved. What really matters is how you treat each other during the divorce process and as co-parents for the next many years.

Realistically, it takes nearly a year to get a California divorce, if both parties are in agreement as to terms. If you are an ardent do-it-yourself type, you can buy a book such as How to Do Your Own Divorce in Californiaand take care of everything yourself. This may involve standing in long lines at the courthouse on multiple occasions. I recommend either Plan A or Plan B.

Here’s a rundown of the divorce proceedings:


  • Petition – Court document to start the process. Filed by one spouse.
  • Summons & Petition – Documents are (discreetly) served on the other spouse according to court rules.
  • Response – The other spouse may choose to file a response.
  • Financial Disclosures – Each spouse must complete and give to the other spouse copies of court forms that disclose income and expenses and assets and debts. Each party should keep copies of everything as well. The forms are signed under penalty of perjury before they are exchanged. You will complete another form that states that you exchanged the information.


Plan A: Parenting plan and plan for child support – Both parents meet with a mediator to work out a written plan for parenting and child support. One parent contacts a Legal Document Assistant (LDA) to type up the necessary forms and make sure that the documents get filed with the court. (Referrals available.) The parents work out the other terms regarding division of assets and debts and spousal support. The fee range for this service is about 25% to 30% of the fee range for a comprehensive mediation. Current fees are listed on my blog: Mediation Journal at blog.

Plan B: Comprehensive Mediated Marital Settlement Agreement. Both parents meet with a mediator to resolve all issues that must be decided to obtain a divorce. In addition to the parenting plan and child support, this include mediation of spousal support and division of assets and responsibility for debts. Current fees are listed on my blog: Mediation Journal at blog.

Discounts: I am mindful that divorcing couples usually face a short-term cash flow crunch, so I try to be transparent about fees. I offer a discount for pre-payment of an agreed-upon number of mediation sessions. Current fees and discounts are listed on my blog: Mediation Journal at blog.

Georgia Daniels, J.D., Mediator
725 Plymouth Rd, Claremont, CA 91711 | 909-414-2721

Los Angeles Mediator and Pasadena Mediator disclaimer: The California divorce mediation, estate planning mediation, family business mediation, or other family mediation information presented in this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice, nor the formation of a mediator/client relationship. Please contact Georgia Daniels for a consultation on your particular situation.