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How do i start the process of divorce and how much

Lodi, CA |
Attorney answers 3


Even when you "have nothing" and your spouse "has everything", you have a right to get a divorce and you have the right to ask the Court to direct that he pays for your attorney fees while doing it for you.

I suggest you arrange for a consultation with a qualified matrimonial attorney near you and discuss the specifics and how much you can expect it to cost and whether they will take your case with the hope and expectation of getting paid through the courts by your spouse.

You should not have to remain married just because you feel you can't afford a divorce lawyer.

Good luck.


One of the things you need to ask for in this divorce is for your spouse to pay your lawyer. Get the book linked below or one like it to familiarize yourself with the process, than see a family lawyer for help.

Disclaimer: Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on, since each state has different laws, each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship.


You start the process of divorce by opening up a case in your county of residence. If you haven't been living in a particular county for 3 months or in California for 6 months, you need to file first for legal separation and then after you meet the residency requirements, you can amend your documents and ask for a divorce at that time.

Forms can be found online at and at In order to start, you'll need the Petition, Summons, and if you have minor children, the UCCJEA. Since you indicated that you have little money, you will probably also want to complete a Fee Waiver, so your $355 filing fee with the Court is waived.

Divorces involve 5 major subjects: 1) Minor children (custody, visitation, and support; 2) Spousal support; 3) Assets (everything you own from the retirement plans to the pots and pans to the house); 4) Debts (everything you owe, from credit cards to student loans); and 5) Attorney fees (who pays for the divorce).

If an issue is pressing or in need of temporary guidance, you would file a motion, which gives you a hearing date. In your particular case, you mentioned a lack of money, which means that spousal support and attorney fees are needed sooner rather than later. Therefore, filing a motion requesting at least those two items would be wise. I would suggest other requests as well, but I unfortunately cannot go into all the details without knowing more about your case.

I know retaining an attorney seems impossible, but do look into that possibility. If your husband has control over a lot of money, an attorney may be willing to take on your case presuming that he or she will receive attorney fees from your husband. A lot of attorneys offer free consultations, and you should definitely take advantage of them. Finally, every county has a local family law facilitator at the courthouse whose job it is to help self-represented people fill out and file the proper family law forms (in your case, divorce).

Good luck!

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