How to Do Your Own Divorce in California in 2013: An Essential Guide for Every Kind of Divorce


Save time! Save money! Save your sanity!

Over a million Californians have successfully done their own divorces with this book. So can you!

You can do it yourself! We explain CA divorce laws with advice for making decisions, tell you practical things you need to think about, and suggest solutions for problems you might encounter. All forms ...

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Paperback (36th Edition)
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Save time! Save money! Save your sanity!

Over a million Californians have successfully done their own divorces with this book. So can you!

You can do it yourself! We explain CA divorce laws with advice for making decisions, tell you practical things you need to think about, and suggest solutions for problems you might encounter. All forms included with detailed instructions. This is a complete kit for an uncontested divorce.

You are not alone. Divorce Helpline has top quality family law attorneys who will help you with information, advice and a full range of services for people who are handling their own cases. See page 2.

CD includes forms, worksheets, software, and much more!

Shows you how to:
Understand the rules and standards
Decide what’s fair and what you want
File a Petition or a Response
Make a Settlement Agreement
Get your judgment

Practical advice
Step-by-step instructions
Forms you will need
Free help with local forms
Free update service

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"You not only saved me several thousand dollars but also saved me a lot of pain and concern because I had the knowledge I needed to handle the divorce process."
- Mr. DM, Riverside

"My divorce would not have been nearly as easy without your book. Several attorneys I consulted were not optimistic about the results they could get but I did it all my self and everything worked out infinitely better."
- Ms. MS, Oakland

"You saved my life ....and my wife's also."
- Mr. BK, Soquel

"I really admire you and I am very impressed with the quality of work you do. I work for a law firm, so I should know!"
- Ms. JC

"I want to report that I achieved my desired outcome completely ...I am now where I wanted to be and completely satisfied. Your approach is excellent. I was able to get the job done for a tiny fraction of what the costs might have been. Your advice was right on the nose."
- Mr. HH

"I feel that this kind of legal assistance is invaluable ...You really threw me a lifeline when I felt I was sinking."
- Ms. SB, Albany

"Thanks to you, a difficult situation was made easier. My [case] was a "piece of cake" and I'm happier than I have been in a long time!"
- Ms. SD, Antioch

"I'm an attorney and I really like your books. I know a lot of lawyers buy them. Your books are wonderful—they are suitable for the general public, and make a very nice overview for attorneys."
- DM, Esq.

"I've been a family law paralegal for 30 years and these are the clearest, most user-friendly references I have used. We have referred many clients to your volumes for custody and visitation questions — they are able to prepare for Court, truly understand the procedures, and they achieve a better result."
- Ms. CS, Legal Assistant, Family Law Facilitation Centers, Rancho Cucamonga

"I recently used your How to do Your Own Divorce in California to obtain a default judgment divorce. It was so easy with your instructions, forms, illustrations and practical advice. Yesterday I received the conformed copies of the Judgment and the divorce was final!! Thank you for…writing a book that made things so simple. After a very complicated marriage, a simple divorce was a real blessing!"
- Ms. EC

"I am a family law paralegal and have been involved in family law in Los Angeles County in one way or another for 20 years. I have completely read How to do Your Own Divorce in California and am about 1/4 into How To Do Your Own Contested Divorce in California, and I can't tell you how excited I have been since I found them. Finally I have found that there is someone else out there who thinks the way I do! I expect to be a…big fan for the rest of my career. Thank you so much!!!"
- paralegal, Los Angeles, 3/02

"Great down to earth advice and the software (CalSupport) is excellent. Definitely better than running down to the first lawyer your friends tell you about."
- customer from Castro Valley, 7/29/01

"Even if you have an attorney or a paralegal helping you with the divorce, this book gives you a lot of great information on our CA legal system. It addresses the idiosyncrasies of each county venue and has all the updated forms. You can save yourself a lot of money just having the forms filled out for your legal advisor ahead of time. The Marital Settlement Agreement is invaluable. Get this book!"
- customer from San Jose, 5/1/01

"These two books were indispensable in getting my two and half year divorce over with after subbing out my attorney. If I would have been aware of these great resources, I could have saved a lot of time and money and avoided a lot of mistakes! Things my attorney should have told me..."
- Mr. JS, 4/20/01

"I received my Notice of Entry of Judgment today! I wanted to write to you and express my sincere appreciation. This book was all I needed in regards to forms and advice to complete my dissolution."
- customer from Citrus Heights, 5/13/99

"I did the entire semi-contested divorce myself, had ALL my paperwork accepted the first time and received my judgment EXACTLY as I prepared it. Thanks very much for all the help. No doubt saved me THOUSANDS of dollars."
- customer from Humboldt County, 3/14/99

"Your book is an excellent text, and I would recommend it to any attorney who is unfamiliar with family law. Yes, a person could do as good a job as the average family law attorney in my county." — David J. Golde, family law facilitator

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780944508886
  • Publisher: Nolo Press Occidental
  • Publication date: 3/5/2013
  • Edition description: 36th Edition
  • Pages: 248
  • Sales rank: 768,179
  • Product dimensions: 8.30 (w) x 10.80 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Ed Sherman was born in Hannibal, Missouri in 1938, graduated from Boalt Hall School of Law in 1964 and was admitted to the California Bar in 1965. Ed Sherman founded Nolo Press with the first edition of this book in 1971. Nolo Press is generally credited with giving the legal process back to the public.

In 1988, he wrote a companion title, Practical Divorce Solutions, for people who have difficulties reaching agreement with their spouses so they can go ahead with the actual divorce. In 2000 he met the need for self-help in more difficult divorce cases with How To Do Your Own Contested Divorce in California. He has authored five other books, five video programs and four software packages to help people through divorce.

In 1989 he founded the Divorce Helpline — a staff of family law attorneys and mediators who assist people doing their own divorces with advice, problem-solving and paperwork — again reducing the severe financial and emotional costs of divorce.

His 2005 book, Legal Essentials for California Couples, introduced the revolutionary Couples Contract which provides a strong foundation for any relationship at any stage. The book has won acclaim from professionals in the fields of financial planning, accounting, couples counseling, and religious ministry.

His 2006 book, The Couples Contract for a Lasting Relationship (with co-author Bruce Janke), expanded the Couples Contract for use nationwide. It has been hailed by even more professionals in the above fields and was favorably reviewed by the Library Journal.

His 2008 book, Make Any Divorce Better!, shows couples a better way to get divorced, revealing his secrets and lessons learned from over 40 years of experience with more than 45,000 successful cases. This book has won four awards.

He lives in Santa Cruz, CA.

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Read an Excerpt

You might not know it, but you are going through two divorces at the same time—your Real Divorce and your Legal Divorce. This book is about getting yourself through the legal divorce with little or no involvement with courts and lawyers. It explains California divorce laws with practical advice to help you make decisions, and shows you exactly how to do the paperwork to get your divorce or find someone to do it for you inexpensively.

The real divorce is your life, your relationships with your Ex, family, friends, and yourself. It’s what you go through in practical, emotional and spiritual terms. The real divorce is about breaking old patterns, finding a new center for your life and doing your best with the hand you’ve been dealt. These matters are not assisted or addressed in any way by the legal divorce.

The legal divorce cares only about how you will divide marital property and debts, whether there will be spousal support, and how you will arrange parenting and child support if you have minor children. If you can settle these matters out of court, there’s nothing left but paperwork and red tape to get your judgment.

If you have trouble agreeing on terms, the problem is almost never legal, but almost always about personalities and emotional upset, for which there is absolutely no help and no solutions—zip, zero, nothing—in court or in a lawyer’s office. In fact, getting involved with lawyers and courts almost always makes things worse—much worse. If you follow my advice, you’ll avoid the traps and pitfalls of the legal system, and things will get much better much sooner.

[Read the rest of this chapter at the Nolo Press Occidental website]

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Table of Contents

PART ONE—All About Divorce
1.1 Can you do your own divorce? Should you?
1.2 What “do your own divorce” means
1.3 What it means to “retain” an attorney—and a better idea
1.4 Advantages to doing your own divorce
1.5 How to start a divorce—Petitioners and Respondents
1.6 Three ways to get it done
1.7 Solving divorce problems
1.8 When you should get some help
1.9 Who can help? How much will it cost?
1.10 Looking ahead

2.1 Dissolution, nullity, and legal separation
2.2 Regular vs. Summary Dissolution
2.3 Grounds for dissolution
2.4 Residency requirements
2.5 Serving papers—giving notice to your spouse
2.6 Jurisdiction and the power of the court to act
2.7 Automatic restraining orders
2.8 Mandatory disclosure of all marital information
2.9 When is it over? How final is your judgment?
2.10 Taxes
2.11 Attorney fees
2.12 Common questions and answers

3.1 Income, debts and your date of separation
3.2 Management of property and the duty spouses owe each other
3.3 Duty to disclose all information
3.4 Cases where there is no community property
3.5 Cases where there is some property
3.6 Understanding your estate
3.7 Taxes
3.8 Wills, insurance beneficiaries, and nonprobate transfers




PART TWO—How to do your own Regular Dissolution
7. Doing your own forms
8. Check list
9. The Summons
10. The Petition
11. The Response
12. How to serve papers
13. Proof of service
14. Declarations of Disclosure
15. The Property Declaration
16. The Income and Expense Declaration
17. The Request to Enter Default
18. How to fill out the Judgment
19. Wage and earnings assignment
20. How to get your Judgment
21. The Notice of Entry of Judgment

PART THREE—Summary Procedures
22. The Summary Dissolution
23. Termination of Domestic Partnership

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