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Respond to a Divorce Case

What's the difference? If you are unsure about whether you want to request a dissolution of marriage, legal separation or nullity then, you may need additional information about the difference between these options. Click the What's the difference? link above for more detailed information about each option.

In order to file a Dissolution of Marriage (divorce) case in San Luis Obispo County, at least one of the parties must have resided in the State of California for the last 6 months and in the County of San Luis Obispo for the last 3 months.

A Response (FL-120) must be completed and filed within 30 days of the date the legal documents were personally delivered to you. If you do not file a Response within 30 days, the other party may move the case forward without you.

If it has been more than 30 days since you were given the legal documents, you may be able to file your Response, so long as the other party has not yet filed a form FL-165 Request to Enter Default. If the other party has filed the FL-165 then you may request a hearing to ask the judge for special permission to file a Response. There are legal deadlines to make this special request so you should contact a lawyer immediately.

Family Law Case Information Q&A Webinar (only for divorce and child custody cases)

This Q&A webinar will provide an overview of the family law process and offer information about how to start, respond to, or finish a divorce, paternity or child custody and child support case. We will explain what forms to complete, how to file your documents, how to give the documents to the other party, and more. This webinar also includes a Q&A section at the end where we will gladly provide neutral information in response to your questions.

Sign up for the webinar at Family Law Case Information Q&A Webinar or call (805) 706-3617.

We recommend that you watch the Family Law Case Information video below for a preview of the topics that will be covered at the webinar. 

*Please note that this video does not contain audio and is approximately 15 minutes long. 

Do It Yourself

We have an online form preparation program available that will ask you to answer questions that are used to complete the forms needed to respond to a Divorce Case. This program will also allow you to print out all the completed necessary forms. 

Do It Yourself- Divorce Response

If you would like the Self-Help Center / Family Law Facilitator's Office to review your forms before you file, then do not make copies until after the Center has reviewed your documents.

Forms Needed

You must complete the following forms to respond to a case already filed by the other party. Your case number should appear on the legal papers you were given. Your case number will usually start with "FL" or the year your case was filed, e.g. "14FL" followed by a series of numbers. There are additional form attachments that you may use as well. The forms are found at the California Courts website. You may click on the form links provided to print out the forms needed. You may also complete these forms on your computer or print in blue or black ink.

* Complete FL-311 and FL-105 only if there are minor children of the marriage.

If you cannot afford to pay the $435 filing fee you will also need to complete the fee waiver forms below. If you do not qualify for a fee waiver, you must bring money to pay the filing fee.

  • FW-001 Request to Waive Court Fees (View sample)
  • FW-003 Order on Court Fee Waiver (View sample)

Instructions and Sample Forms

Sample forms are provided to review what the forms may look like when completed.

Overview of the Process

Complete Forms:

Complete all the forms listed above.

Make Copies

Once the necessary forms are completed you should two hole-punch each original at the top and make two copies of the completed originals; one for you and one for the other party. The originals are for the Court to keep.

If you would like the Self-Help Center / Family Law Facilitator's Office to review your forms before you file, then do not make copies until after the Center has reviewed your documents.

Deliver Papers

Someone who is 18 years or older must mail to the other party a copy of all the completed legal papers mentioned above (except fee waiver). The person mailing the other party these papers cannot be you. The legal papers must be mailed to the address that the other party listed on their legal papers. The person mailing the other party these papers could be a friend, relative or private process server. This is called "service by mail." It will be important to write down the date and city of when and where the documents were mailed.

Complete FL-335 Proof of Service

FL-335 Proof of Service by Mail: The person who mails the legal documents to the other party must sign and complete the FL-335 Proof of Service by Mail and return it to you. Do not give the other party the original FL-335 Proof of Service by Mail. You should make a copy of the FL-335 Proof of Service by Mail for your own records.

File Papers

Take to the Family Law Clerk's Office all the completed originals and 1 copy including FL-120, FL-311, FL-105, FL-150, FL-335 and if you are requesting a fee waiver FW-001 and FW-003. Do not file the original FL-140 and FL-142 and their attachments.

Courthouse Locations

The Family Law Clerk will file your originals and return a filed stamped copy to you.

Attend Parenting Class

If you have minor children, you must complete the online parenting class, Parenting After Separation, that deals with the impact of divorce and separation on children. The class is free and you can register online or call (805) 706-3608 for more information about the class. Also, if you and your spouse do not agree on a parenting plan or you need help writing up your parenting plan agreement, you must schedule a mediation appointment by calling Family Court Services at (805) 706-3608.

Finish Case

There are many more forms that you must complete and file before your case is finalized. You may proceed with your case in one of two: Uncontested or Trial. You or the other party must file additional documents in order for your case to be final. The court will not contact you.

After you have completed the steps to respond in your case, you will need to finish your case.

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