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Bay Area Family Attorneys > Blog > Divorce > Obtaining Divorce Papers and Starting the Process: Part 1

Obtaining Divorce Papers and Starting the Process: Part 1


Many do not know what their first steps should really be when they decide that they need to acquire divorce papers and begin the process of divorcing their spouse in California. While the process may seem daunting to those who have never had much court experience outside of a rogue speeding ticket, with effective legal guidance, a divorce can be efficiently finalized.

Although “efficient” does not necessarily mean “easy,” the experienced attorneys at Cardwell, Steigerwald Young can help you to understand the various legal requirements and steps to completion. In part one of this two-part series, we will explain the essential steps for obtaining correct documentation and beginning the journey toward resolving your own divorce in California. Our attorneys are standing by to discuss your own unique circumstances and case. Contact our office for more specific guidance.

Steps to Obtaining Divorce Papers

Before you even obtain paperwork and begin figuring out how to correctly fill it all out, you need to become familiar with California’s divorce process so you understand all of the legal requirements and procedures for divorcing in California. These include requirements concerning jurisdiction and residency of the county where you file – a topic we have discussed at length in other articles in this blog.

Clearly, one of the first steps in starting the divorce process — once you are certain you have identified the appropriate venue — is obtaining the necessary paperwork. There are official, established forms and processes that are required when pursuing a divorce. This article will help guide readers through the steps of obtaining these papers and navigating the immediate steps to take thereafter.

Determine the Type of Divorce

You may have options when pursuing a divorce. From the outset, you will be a step ahead if you have predetermined the type of divorce that you wish to pursue. California allows divorcing couples to pursue either a summary dissolution of marriage or a regular dissolution of marriage. The summary dissolution is simpler and quicker, but not every divorce will qualify for a summary dissolution. If your case does not qualify, you will need to go ahead and pursue a regular marriage dissolution.

Once you know the type of divorce you will be pursuing you can obtain the necessary forms.

Retrieving the Necessary Forms

Visit the your court’s website or visit the courthouse where you are seeking a divorce and obtain physical copies of the forms.  While it is often easiest to download and print necessary forms from home, many courthouses offer help-centers where you can talk to someone and obtain physical copies of the necessary forms in person.

Be sure to read these forms carefully and gather any necessary information. Errors in filing submissions or missing information can lead to unnecessary delays in your divorce. The old adage “measure twice, cut once” works well here. Ensure everything is in order prior to filing for a smoother process.

Tips for Accurate Form Completion

  1. Carefully Read Instructions: Do not give in to any temptation to gloss over things you do not understand. Everything in this paperwork is there for a reason. Ensure all requested information such as names, addresses and dates are correctly accounted for to avoid confusion and delays.
  1. Seek legal guidance: When in doubt, consulting with a seasoned legal expert can save you a lot of time and headaches. They can help you not only understand what is going on in the process, but can also warn you of potential pitfalls.


Thoroughly review your papers. Ensure you understand the legal implications of the provided information. Remember that false statements can lead to serious consequences. To ensure a seamless experience, consider engaging with experienced legal counsel.

Cardwell, Steigerwald Young

The esteemed San Francisco divorce lawyers at Cardwell, Steigerwald Young can help you navigate the nuances of divorce from day one. Contact our office today to begin working with our team.




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