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What To Do Now If You Decided To Divorce Last Year in California

If you're thinking about getting a divorce by the end of this year, you're on the clock. Every divorce in California must start with a Petition and Response – meaning, you or your spouse must file official paperwork with the court stating your intent to divorce. (Learn more about the Petition and Response process here)

After the Petition is filed, it takes at least six months and one day – by law in California – to finalize your divorce. (Note: You won't be automatically divorced after the waiting period. All forms must be completed before the divorce is final). So, say you file and serve (deliver) your petition on February 1. The earliest your divorce could be finalized is in August of this year. And that's if there are no complicating factors.

If you've resolved to get a divorce by the end of this calendar year, these Hello Divorce resources will help you get – and stay – on track.

Quick tip: you'll need a free Starter Member account to access the links below. 

Know what you're about to get yourself into

You didn't arrive at the decision to divorce easily, so it shouldn't surprise you that the divorce process itself isn't easy, either. Carve out some time to review our Divorce Navigator. It's completely free, and it will walk you through the complicated California divorce process – which we've broken down into four understandable (and manageable) steps.

Think about how you plan to execute your divorce.

Will you self-represent? Will you and your spouse go through mediation, or will you hire a divorce attorney or a legal coach?

Tip: We can help, no matter which option you choose.

If you aren't fighting over kids, already have an agreement and don't have a complex estate, you are a good candidate to self-represent. Learn how to file for divorce if you're representing yourself and check out our 10 tips for representing yourself in family court.

As you're thinking through this important piece of the process, be sure to familiarize yourself with Hello Divorce membership options. Our memberships are a great way to keep costs down while still maintaining one-on-one access to top lawyers. And remember: Starter Memberships are free and come with a free 15-minute call to decide what legal strategy is right for you.

Before you file a Petition to divorce...

Review our pre-leaving checklist for a list of items you'll want to make sure you have in your possession – from cash to documents to family heirlooms.

The separation of assets can be extremely complicated.

Our property and debt division cheat sheet will help you get organized.

Will you need to go to court?

It is possible that as your divorce progresses, you may end up in court. Most people who end up in a family law courtroom have never been to court before. Our Divorce Court 101 resource will help you understand exactly what to expect if you do end up in court, and our guide to what to wear to court will help you – and those accompanying you – put the best face forward.

Make sure you're taking care of yourself through this process.

Divorce is financially, mentally, and emotionally draining. Our self-care worksheet will help you find and commit to a time and activity that will help you stay sane and focused.