How to Finalize My Divorce in Calfornia

by Kimberly Turtenwald

After you have begun the divorce process in California, regardless of whether you are using an attorney or representing yourself, a six-month waiting process begins. This is known as the "cooling off" period and cannot be waived. However, especially if you are handling your divorce yourself, it is important to know what steps are necessary to finalize your divorce once it is under way. For the most part, this involves filling out and filing the appropriate forms.

Obtain the appropriate forms from the California Courts Self-Help Center.

Fill out form FL-170, Declaration for Default or Uncontested. This form is only needed if you wish to skip going to court and receive your divorce decree by mail.

Fill out form FL-180, Judgment. This form tells the judge everything that you and your spouse have agreed to in terms of the divorce, such as alimony, child support and visitation. The information should match your initial petition and property declaration forms.

Fill out form FL-190, Notice of Entry of Judgment. This form serves to tell what type of judgment you are asking for, as well as listing the date the marriage ended.

Fill out form VN185, Marital Settlement Agreement. This agreement details how everything from the marriage will be split, including real estate, property, assets and debt. All of the details should be covered. This prevents the two parties from being required to appear in court.

Sign form VN185 and have your spouse do the same. Your signatures serve as your agreement to the details included on the form.

Submit the forms to your local California court for finalization of your divorce. The judge will sign your divorce decree as soon as the six-month waiting period has passed.

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