Divorce is a big decision
You can get through it with your dignity and your pocketbook in tact.
Read on for real answers (we never hide the ball) on how to develop an exit strategy that gets you off to a legally advantageous start and strategically plan your divorce.
Introduction to JudgementJudicial Council vs. Marital Settlement
Marital Settlement Agreement templateIncludes various topics that parties typically want to include in their settlement agreement
Forms ApproachWhich court forms can you use?
JudgmentDivorce judgement court form
Stipulation For Entry of JudgmentLegal stipulations
Notice of Rights and ResponsibilitiesForm for minor children
Assembling JudgmentHow to assemble your judgement
Additional FormsWhat other forms will you need?
Filing FormsHow to file your forms with the court
After JudgementWhat to do when you hear back
We offer a variety of free divorce resources. Click a topic to learn more.
Need more help? This section also has a paid instructional package available.
FAQ’s Related to Judgment
Can the FL-180 also be used for a Judgment of Legal Separation or a Judgment of Nullity of Marriage?
The divorce judgment will terminate your marital status and restore you to the status of being a “single” person. The divorce judgment will also include the court orders that will divide your property, divide your debts, spell out child custody arrangements, set child support, and set spousal support.
One way is the Judicial Council forms approach and the other way is the Marital Settlement Agreement approach.
You use a collection of Judicial Council forms to set forth the terms of your settlement agreement. There is a Judicial Council form you can use to set forth your agreement about the division of your property and debts. There are various other Judicial Council forms you can use to set forth your agreement regarding child custody. There are a number of other Judicial Council forms you can use to set forth your agreement regarding child support. There is also a Judicial Council form to set forth your agreement regarding spousal support. If you decide to use the Judicial Council forms approach, you essentially fill out all the forms you need to describe the terms of the settlement agreement you reached with your spouse and you then attach those forms to another two page Judicial Council form known as the “Judgment” form, which is FL-180.
You draft a Marital Settlement Agreement using a template. A Marital Settlement Agreement is a written contract that spells out the terms of the settlement agreement you have made with your spouse. The Marital Settlement Agreement will contain provisions about how your assets and debts are to be divided, provisions about spousal support, and, if you have minor children, provisions about child custody and child support. The Marital Settlement Agreement will be a ached to your FL-180 “Judgment” form.
Is it better to use the Judicial Council forms approach or the Marital Settlement Agreement approach?
Either approach will work. The main problem with the Judicial Council forms approach is that the forms make it difficult to set forth detailed provisions or unique provisions you may want included in your settlement agreement. The Judicial Council forms work well for simple cases, with simple agreements. However, if you want to do anything that is unique or somewhat detailed or complicated, the Judicial Council forms can be difficult to use. With a Marital Settlement Agreement, you are not limited to an agreement that consists of boxes on forms that you check and small blank spaces on the forms in which you try to cram the terms of your settlement agreement. With a Marital Settlement Agreement, you can write the exact agreement you want. You can include all the unique provisions you want, in as much detail as you want, and exclude provisions you don’t want in your agreement.
Our series of videos regarding “Judgment” will explain which forms to use.
If I am going to use the Judicial Council forms approach to draft my divorce judgment, where can I get the forms?
You can get all the forms you need from our free Court Forms Database.
If I am going to use the Marital Settlement Agreement approach to draft my divorce judgment, how do I get the template?
The template is in the Templates Database and is available for $20.
The Marital Settlement Agreement template consists of introductory provisions, then the “body” of the agreement, and concluding with a host of concluding “boilerplate” legal paragraphs that lawyers frequently include in Marital Settlement Agreements. The “body” of the Marital Settlement Agreement includes various topics that par=es typically want to include in their settlement agreement. These topics include the following: 1) Spousal Support; 2) Child Custody; 3) Child Support; 4) Division of Assets; 5) Division of Debts; 6) Division of Retirement Assets; 7) Division of Bank Accounts; 8) Division of Motor Vehicles; 9); Disposition of the Family Home; 10) Life Insurance provisions; 11) College Education Provisions; 12) Income Tax Provisions; 13) Attorney Fees Provisions; 14) Equalizing Payment Provisions; and 15) A collection of additional provisions on topics you may want to include in your settlement agreement.
The topics contained in the “body” of the Marital Settlement Agreement framework come with various options. For example, the “body” of the Marital Settlement Agreement starts with the topic of spousal support. You can click on the spousal support link in the body of the agreement and that link will take you to pages with 8 different types of spousal support agreements. You can review the various spousal support options, select the spousal support option you want to be part of your settlement agreement, make any edits you may want, and then “cut and paste” that option into the body of your Marital Settlement Agreement template. You go through each of the various topics set forth in the template. Select the optional provisions you want for each topic. Then, cut and paste to create your own unique settlement agreement.
After I have drafted my divorce judgment, are there additional court forms that I need to submit to the court along with my judgment?
Yes. The additional court forms you will need will depend on the type of divorce case you have (i.e., uncontested; default with an agreement; true default; or contested case). Our videos explain the additional court forms you need depending on the type of case you have.
It’s just like an uncontested divorce case, where the parties were able to reach a settlement agreement on all issues, but the Petitioner is going to take the Respondent’s default for the sole purpose of saving the Respondent his or her “first paper” court filing fee.
What is the “Income Withholding For Support” form (FL-195) and do I have to submit this form to the court along with my divorce judgment?
The FL-195 is a wage assignment that can be used to have your ex-spouse’s employer deduct child support and spousal support from earnings. Some courts require this form to be submitted along with your divorce judgment, others do not. It depends on each court’s local rules and procedures.
If I send my spouse’s employer the FL-195, will the employer deduct the support from my spouse’s earnings and then send the money directly to me?
No. If you send the withholding order to your spouse’s employer, the employer will deduct the child support and spousal support that is due from your ex- spouse’s wages. The money will not be sent by the employer directly to you, but will instead be sent by the employer to the California State Disbursement Unit in Sacramento. You will need to contact the State Disbursement Unit and set up an account with them. When the State Disbursement Unit receives funds from your ex-spouse’s employer, the State Disbursement Unit will then transfer the funds to your account.
Will the judge sign my divorce judgment the same day I file the judgment and my other paperwork with the court clerk?
No. The court is not going to process your judgment of dissolution right away. The court clerk will take some of your court forms, stamp them, and hand the copies back to you at the same =me you file the documents. However, the clerk will keep certain papers, primarily your judgment of dissolution and the Notice of Entry of Judgment. It will take the court weeks or months to process the judgment of dissolution. When you file your judgment, ask the clerk how long the court is taking to process judgments.
There is no longer a “Final Judgment of Dissolution”. Many years ago, the court issued an Interlocutory Judgment and then a Final Judgment. Today, we have just a single Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage.
If you and your spouse have minor children, then within ten days of the date the court issues your judgment of dissolution, you and your ex-spouse are both required to fill out and file with the court a “Child Support Case Registry”, which is FL-191.
The information in the FL-191 can be used by the State of California to track down parents that don’t pay their child support.