One of the first documents required in a divorce is the Petition for Dissolution, served alongside the Summons. A petition is a document that you, as the petitioner, file with the court, requesting a certain judicial action take place. In this case, a Petition for Dissolution requests that the court dissolve, or end, your marriage or domestic partnership. Either spouse or partner can file the Petition for Dissolution to begin the marriage.

The Petition isn’t a divorce decree so it does not end your marriage or domestic partnership, however once it is filed with the court and served on the responding party, the respondent, the divorce process is officially started.

When you first see a Petition for Dissolution, you may be intimidated. A lot of information will be required from you as the petitioner. When filling out the Petition, you will be asked to provide your legal relationship status, such as whether you are a married couple or registered domestic partners.

You must also verify that you or your spouse has fulfilled the residency requirement for California divorces. You will also be asked for some details about your marriage or domestic partnership and to declare the grounds for the dissolution. You will also have to provide information about any children you have.

The Petition is also where you will outline the proposed custody and visitation arrangements for your children, note any spousal or child support requests and provide a list of your debts and assets, distributed as separate or community property. The Petition is also where you can request attorney’s fees be paid by your spouse, establish a name change or request some other action take place with the divorce.

Although filling out the Petition may take some work, keep in mind your spouse or partner may disagree with what you have included in it. If he or she does disagree, the divorce is then a contested divorce and they, as the respondent, will have 30 days from the date they were served to respond to your Petition. In this respect, the Petition is a jumping off point for the divorce that establishes the facts of the case and the requests of the petitioner.

Are you in Los Angeles County and have some questions about how a divorce case starts? Certified Family Law Specialist Steven Fernandez has experience with complex divorce issues and can guide you through the beginning processes of divorce. Representing individuals in Los Angeles and surrounding areas, Steven Fernandez will ensure you properly fill out your initial divorce filing, helping prevent complications down the road. Call our office at 310-564-5710; email us at or contact us through our online form today to schedule a free consultation.