Welcome to FreeDivorce.com.
Christina: This is Christina.
Ed: This is Ed. Today, we are going to talk about taking your divorce judgment and other court forms to court for filing.
Christina: Ed, after you have completed all of your paperwork, what do you do?
Ed: At this point, I am assuming you have filed your Summons and your divorce Petition with the court and served your spouse. I am also assuming you and your spouse have completed and exchanged your Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure documents. I am assuming you have negotiated a settlement agreement with your spouse and you have filled out your FL-180 divorce judgment using either the collection of Judicial Council forms approach or the Marital Settlement agreement approach. Finally, I am assuming you have filled out all of your other forms as described in the previous two videos. Now, you need to file everything with the court clerk.
Christina: Can you go over the forms I am going to need one more time?
Ed: Sure. I am going to go through a list of forms you should have in order to process your judgment. You may have already filed some of these forms with the court. You need the following:
- Proof of Service of Summons, which is FL-115. If you served the Summons and Petition by using the Notice and Acknowledgment of Receipt form, which is FL-117, then you will need to attach the FL-117 to your FL-115.
- Declaration Regarding Service Of Declaration Of Disclosure And Income And Expense Declaration, which is FL-141. This is the form that proves to the court that you served your Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure documents on your spouse. You will need two of these forms. One signed by you and one signed by your spouse confirming that you each did your Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure and gave the other spouse a copy.
- Stipulation And Waiver of Final Declaration of Disclosure, which is FL-144. Now if you and your spouse did not stipulate to waive the exchange of your Final Declaration of Disclosure documents, and you both actually filled out Final Declarations of Disclosures and served each other, then instead of the FL-144, you will use the FL-141, which is the Declaration Regarding Service. If you and your spouse exchanged Final Declarations of Disclosure, don’t use the FL-144. Just use the FL-141 and, when you fill out your respective FL-141 forms, fill out the forms to indicate that you exchanged both Preliminary and Final Declarations of Disclosures.
- The next form you will need is the Declaration For Default Or Uncontested Dissolution, which is the FL-170. As I mentioned in an earlier video, only one party needs to fill out this form.
- You and your spouse may want to also file with the court your respective Income And Expense Declarations, which is FL-150. You each should have filled out Income & Expense Declarations as part of your Preliminary Declarations of Disclosures. Not all courts require you to file an Income and Expense Declaration. However, it’s a good practice to file the FL-150 forms, particularly when child support and/or spousal support are part of the settlement. At some point in the future, one party or the other may want to modify the amount of support. If that happens, an important question the court will ask will be: How have the parties’ financial circumstances changed since the judgment of dissolution was issued and the original support orders were made? If both parties filed Income & Expense Declarations at the same time the Judgment of Dissolution was issued, then that will be very helpful to the court at any future support modification hearing.
- Then, the next form you need to include with your paperwork is, of course, the FL-180 Judgment of Dissolution with either a Marital Settlement Agreement attached; or, if you used the Judicial Council forms approach, your FL-180 will need to have attached all of the Judicial Council court that you used to spell out your settlement agreement regarding the division of assets and debts, custody, and support. If you used the Judicial Council forms approach, don’t forget to attach to your judgment the “Stipulation For Entry of Judgment” form. If you have minor children and your judgment includes child support provisions, you will also have to attach to the judgment the “Notice of Rights And Responsibilities”, which is FL-192. Finally, as we previously mentioned, if your judgment includes child support provisions, you should also attach a copy of the computer printout that shows how the amount of child support was calculated.
- The next form you will need to submit with your divorce judgment is your Notice of Entry of Judgment, which is FL-190.
- If your judgment includes child support provisions, some counties will require you to submit with your judgment the “Income Withholding For Support “ form, which is FL-195. Not all counties require the FL-195. It is best to be safe and just submit the FL-195 with your judgment. If, after the judgment comes back from the court, you don’t want to serve your ex-spouse’s employer with the FL-195 wage assignment, just don’t mail a copy to your ex-spouse’s employer. If you don’t have minor children, you don’t need to deal with the FL-195. If your judgment does not include child support but does include spousal support, and you want a wage assignment for spousal support, then submit the FL-435 form with your judgment.
- The next form is the Appearance, Stipulation, And Waivers, which is FL-130. You will not need this form if you are processing your judgment as a “default with an agreement” or as a “true default”. Nor will you need this form for a contested divorce. You only need this form if you have an uncontested case, which we have sometimes called, “non-default with an agreement” case. If your spouse is using the FL-130 form to make his or her “appearance” in the action, then you will need to include a check payable to the Superior Court in an amount equal to his or her “first paper” filing fee, which is currently $435, unless your spouse has previously completed the fee waiver forms, which are FW-001 and FW-003, and qualified for a fee waiver.
- Finally, there is the “Request To Enter Default” form, which is FL-165. Now, if you are processing your case as an uncontested case, which again, we sometimes refer to as a “non-default with an agreement” case, you do not need this form. You only need the FL-165 if you are processing the case as a “default with an agreement” case or as a “true default” case. If your case was contested and went through a trial, you will not need the FL-165.
Christina: You did not mention all of the court forms I have filled out. Are there some forms that I filled out that don’t get filed with the court?
Ed: Yes. Some of the forms you previously completed will not be filed with the court. For example, your Schedule of Assets and Debts, which is FL-142, is not filed with the court. Your Declaration of Disclosure, which is FL-140, with attached two years worth of income tax returns, is not filed with the court. These documents contain sensitive financial information that could be used for identify theft. Since divorce filings are a matter of public record, you don’t want to file documents with the court that contain information such as your social security number, bank account numbers, etc.
Christina: I have my completed FL-180 Judgment and all of the rest of my completed court forms together. What do I do next?
Ed: You will need to make copies of all of your forms before you file them with the court clerk. It is best to make two copies of all the forms, but make three copies of the judgment of dissolution and its attachments. When you file your forms with the court, the original forms will be kept by the court clerk. The clerk will stamp the two copies and give the two copies back to you. The two copies of the forms are for you and your spouse (one copy each). The court clerk will keep the original judgment of dissolution and the two copies of the judgment. You keep the third copy of the judgment as a backup copy, just in case the judgment you submitted to the court gets lost (which can happen). When you take all of your forms to file with the court clerk, keep the original and the copies paper-clipped together. When you hand the court clerk a particular form, you want the original on top and the two copies paper-clipped underneath.
Christina: Do I need to hole punch my original court forms before I file them with the court clerk?
Ed: If you have a two-hole punch, punch the tops of the original documents. This will make it easy for the court clerk to file the original documents. Some courts require the originals to be two-hole punched. Some courts provide a two-hole punch at or near the clerk’s window that you can use. Other courts will punch the forms for you.
Christina: Do I need to bring anything else with me when I go to file my judgment and other court forms with the court clerk?
Ed: Yes. You will need to bring two large envelopes with you, envelopes that are 9” by 12”. One envelope should be addressed to you and the second envelope should be addressed to your spouse. The court will use these envelopes to mail you and your spouse copies of the divorce judgment after the judgment has been processed and approved by the court.
Christina: Will the judge sign my divorce judgment the same day I file the judgment and my other paperwork with the court clerk?
Ed: 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 time 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. It is not unusual for the court to take 3 or 4 months to process a judgment of dissolution. The courts are overworked and understaffed. When you file your judgment, ask the clerk how long the court is taking to process judgments. The court needs time to review your proposed judgment of dissolution and make sure you have properly completed the judgment and all of the other required court forms.
Christina: What if my paperwork isn’t all in order – perhaps I am missing a form or perhaps I filled out a form incorrectly – what will happen?
Ed: If you haven’t done your paperwork correctly, your paperwork will be rejected by the court. You will receive your paperwork back in the envelope you provided, along with a memo that tells you what you did wrong or what you failed to do. If this happens don’t worry. Fix whatever needs to be fixed and then re-submit your judgment. If you did everything right, then the court will approve your judgment of dissolution, meaning a judge will sign it. The court clerk will then mail both you and your spouse a filed-endorsed copy of your judgment of dissolution. The clerk will mail you and your spouse the judgment of dissolution in the self-addressed envelopes you provided. Make sure you put plenty of postage on the two large stamped envelopes that you submit with your judgment. If you fail to put enough postage on the envelopes, your judgment will get lost and it will be difficult to track it down. We suggest you put extra postage on the envelopes.
Christina: Can I file my judgment and my other court forms with the court at any time?
Ed: The windows for the court clerk are not open all day. For most counties, the clerk’s window opens at 8:00 a.m. and closes at 3:00 p.m., Mondays through Friday, except for court holidays. It is usually a good idea to file your papers soon after the clerk’s window opens. If you wait until late morning or the afternoon, the line at the court clerk’s window can belong.
Christina: What about any QDROs I have, when do I submit them to the court?
Ed: If your settlement agreement requires the division of retirement assets by means of Qualified Domestic Relations Orders or QDROs, you can submit your QDROs at the same time you submit your divorce judgment. If the QDROs have not yet been drafted, you can submit the QDROs later, but you should get the QDROs completed and filed with the court as soon as possible. If you don’t understand what QDROs are, go back and watch the “Getting Educated” videos that talk about the division of retirement assets.