This is your last step: to write up your divorce agreement and file it with the court. When your agreement is filed, it becomes a final court order called a Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage, sometimes referred to as a divorce judgment or divorce decree. Now, when you submit your divorce agreement for filing, you must include mandatory Judicial Council Family Law forms for finalizing a divorce, JC forms for short. These forms tell the court that you complied with the legal requirements to divorce. The most important JC form is the Judgment for Dissolution, FL-180. You’ll attach your divorce agreement to the FL-180 form when you submit it to the court. I’ll refer to the divorce agreement and required JC forms as your Judgment Packet.
If you correctly submit your Judgment Packet, it will be filed and you’ll be done with your divorce. If not, the clerk will reject your Packet and you’ll need to correct the errors and re-submit it.
You can prepare your divorce agreement by writing one, called a Marital Settlement Agreement or an MSA. Both of you’ll sign the MSA and then submit it to the judge to sign into a court order. We have provided an example for your review.
Or, you can use the fillable court forms. These forms are also JC forms, but not the same ones that are needed to finish your divorce. These forms are attached to the Judgment for Dissolution, FL-180, as your divorce agreement d. I’ll refer to these as the FL-180 Attachments so it’s not confused with the JC forms everyone needs to include to finish the divorce.
The FL-180 Attachments make it easier to put a divorce agreement together. The forms have basic options written out and you can select the ones that apply to you. However, if you have a more complex or creative agreement, these forms will be too limiting. In that case, you’ll want to prepare an MSA.
Preparing a divorce agreement does not apply to those who will have a trial for their case. In those cases, the judge will issue a ruling. It also doesn’t apply to Petitioners who are doing the entire divorce without their spouses’ involvement. Those Petitioners will submit a proposed Judgment, not a divorce agreement.
Once you have your Judgment Packet together, you’ll file it using the same filing methods discussed in How to Locate, File and Serve Court Forms.
Judgment Packet – Agreements: The hardest part of the Judgment Packet is putting together your divorce agreement, whether it’s as an MSA or the FL-180 Attachments. Your divorce agreement must cover all property and debt issues, spousal support, and if you have children, child custody and child support. If you forget to include an agreement, it’s as if you never had the agreement, so make sure you take time to prepare a complete and comprehensive divorce agreement.
MSA Agreements: If you are preparing an MSA, you can write out your MSA in a word processing program, like Microsoft Word or Apple’s Pages. Divide each of the areas out with headers so your MSA is easy to read; such as “Division of Property” or “Child Custody and Parenting Plan.” Also, make sure each page is numbered. You can also leave space at the bottom for each page to be initialed. Download our Sample MSA to get yourself started.
At The Complete Divorce, we provide you what you need to successfully do your California divorce on your own. We provide all the required family law court forms in our automated forms program, all the video tutorials, and an automated customizable Marital Settlement Agreement (Divorce Agreement). If you need more help, you can get our package that includes time with a divorce mediator.
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