What Happens After Divorce Papers Are Filed

Divorce is a complicated legal process, and while it’s crucial to understand all the steps during the divorce process, knowing what to do after filing the divorce papers is just as important.

Thus, knowing what happens after divorce papers are filed might make the experience easier and more bearable for both parties.

A series of legal and emotional obstacles must be faced before an agreement is reached and the divorce is finalized.

What Happens After Divorce Papers Are Filed?

The filing of divorce papers in the family court marks the beginning of the divorce. In fact, filing divorce papers in California, serving the spouse, and getting a response are considered to be the first phase of the divorce process.

After the spouse who starts the divorce files the divorce papers to the court, the other party in the divorce should be served. The spouse responding to divorce needs to fill out the Response form within 30 days of being served. After that, the filled-out response should be filed and served.

So, what happens after divorce papers are filed in California and the response is received? There are three steps after submitting divorce papers that must be followed: sharing financial information, making decisions, and finalizing the divorce.

During each of the stages, there are several procedures that the spouses should go through. Here is a detailed overview of what happens after you respond to a divorce petition in California.

Sharing financial information

After filing divorce documents, the spouses should have a clear picture of the other party’s assets, earnings, and spending. This step is also known as financial disclosure, and both parties are required to do it. A San Francisco divorce lawyer can help you sort out the needed documents and file them on time.

The deadlines in California for sharing financial information are the following:

  • For the petitioner, 60 days after successfully filing the Petition,
  • For the respondent, 60 days, but after filing the Response to the petitioner.

Generally, here is what is required by the California court according to family law:

  • Tax returns two years prior to filing for divorce,
  • Proof of income from the past two months,
  • Documentation about your assets and debts.

Additionally, spouses may need to share documents like mortgage, credit card, retirement, bank account statements, or title to your house or car.

Required forms for financial disclosure

With the help of the above-mentioned documentation, spouses should fill out three forms:

Handing the documents to the other party

Once the divorcing party has all the documentation with the financial information ready, it should be handed to the other party. Most importantly, the handing over of the documents should be done by a third party. In California, that could be anyone older than 18 years.

Final declaration of disclosure

Both parties are obligated to share their financial information so the outcome of the divorce can be a fair and equitable division. During the process of divorce, both parties might need to do the financial disclosure for a second time in the form of a final declaration of disclosure.

However, if both parties agree, a Stipulation and Waiver of Final Declaration Of Disclosure can be signed to avoid making a final declaration of disclosure. With this form, the spouses explicitly say that they are up-to-date with the financial situation of the other spouse, and there is no need to share the financial information for the second time.

Decision-making process

So what occurs following divorce paperwork submission about the spouse’s financial state? The spouses and their attorneys, if they have any, will try to negotiate the terms of the divorce. That is maybe one of the most important parts of the divorce procedure.

The spouses will try to make decisions regarding the different subjects, such as:

  • Property division
  • Debt division
  • Spousal support
  • Children’s care and support

In cases where the divorcing parties can agree on these matters, they will need to sign an agreement.

On the contrary, if a settlement about one or all aspects mentioned above can’t be reached, the divorce procedures will continue in court hearings. There, the court will decide on behalf of the divorcing parties.

Writing an agreement

When the parties are close to reaching a settlement, it’s best to consult with a lawyer to draft the agreement. In the California divorce process, courts require some words, phrases, and paragraphs to be written in the agreement. Thus, it is best to do it with an attorney to avoid getting the agreement sent back by the court.

Finalizing the divorce

Once both parties reach an agreement, they will have to submit the judgment papers. To successfully finalize the divorce, the divorcing couple should have a signed agreement, have paid the first filing fee (unless they got a fee waiver), and have filed a preliminary Declaration Regarding Service of Declaration of Disclosure.

In addition, four forms should be filled out, which include:

Soon-to-be-ex-spouses can ensure they have all the documentation ready by going through the Judgment Checklist for Dissolution or Legal Separation. The checklist has the needed forms to complete a default or uncontested judgment.

Steps To Take After the Divorce is Finalized

So what happens after divorce papers are filed, and the divorce is finalized? That brings the question of the post-divorce period, which is also of significant importance.

After finalizing the divorce, both parties must adhere to the settlement and agreement terms. In addition, divorcing parties are generally advised to take the following practical steps:

  • Change their will if the spouse was included in it
  • Update beneficiaries on different accounts such as insurance, investment, or bank
  • Update their employer about the change in the marital status so they can change the withholding tax status
  • Update all legal documents, such as IDs, if there is a change in the name or address
  • Revise the estate plan


The spouses should be informed of what happens after divorce papers are filed. Being informed every step of the way allows both parties enough space to prepare emotionally and legally and could make the process a bit easier. Additionally, understanding the timeline after filing for divorce and what is the next step might minimize the chances of making a mistake and complicating the process.

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