You can't file together in CA. You both still need to file you own paperwork. What you can do together is come up with your settlement agreement and then have it drafted into a final judgment that can be filed with the court. The question about taxes cannot be answered without more info.
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Definitely consult with an attorney. An uncontested divorce won't be as expensive and won't take as much time to complete.
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There is no way to avoid the court to get a divorce. Some one will need to file a petition and then the other will need to file a response. If you are in agreement, then submit either a Marital Settlement Agreement for the court to sign to finish your divorce or submit a Stipulation For Judgment to the court for their signature. By statute, you can't get divorced until at least 6 months has passed from the file and service of the petition. I suggest y ou seek legal assistance on this.
While you cannot file for divorce together, you can go through the uncontested divorce process, which will simplify the process somewhat and save you legal fees. You should consult with an attorney for an in-depth analysis of your situation.
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Not wanting to cause any disagreements, I cautiously advise that with children, a house and debts, having an attorney prepare the documents and making sure both parties are aware of their rights, obligations and the specific terms of an agreement, is probably necessary. There are mediators, attorneys, that offer to discuss all issues with both of you, and then prepare a complete agreement that will properly state those terms. You still need to comply with all disclosure requirements, attend parenting classes and address all relevant issues. Failure to do so could get the documents rejected, set aside by motion, or be the subject of post judgment actions for modification. You have important issues, don't risk confusion or missing terms, hire an attorney.
The comments made here are meant to direct you to receive local consultation from an attorney in your area and ask proper, detailed questions to get the best legal advice upon which you can take appropriate action.
You will have to both file the necessary paperwork with the Court to become legally divorced. There are still various requirements that need to be satisfied during the process before the Court with sign off on the divorce. If all issues are resolved, then you can proceed with an uncontested divorce. Pursuant to California law, it will still take a minimum of 6 months to complete. You should consult with and/or retain counsel to guide you through and ensure that the process is completed quickly.
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