Introduction: My earlier blog (“Making Sense of Those Legal Forms” posted February 1, 2021) discussed the forms that are needed to begin the process for divorce. This article is written to explain the forms that must be submitted to the court in order to complete the process of obtaining your divorce.
The Marital Settlement Agreement (“MSA”) or Stipulation for Judgment
You both sign in the presence of a notary.
This is your final agreement and must be notarized unless you are formally represented by counsel, in which case your signatures and the signatures of both of your attorneys will suffice.
FL 180: Judgment
No one signs.
This is the “cover sheet” to your Marital Settlement Agreement. This says, basically, that the court had jurisdiction to give you a divorce, that it now gives you your divorce and the effective date of your divorce, and that the terms of your MSA are incorporated into this judgment and turned into “orders” of the court.
FL 342: Child Support Information and Order Attachment
No one signs.
If you have minor children, many counties require this form, which is attached to the Judgment. It sets out the parameters of the child support ordered by your Judgment (even if it is $0) and constitutes the “findings” of the court, which will be the foundation of any future modification request.
FL 182: Notice of Rights and Responsibilities, Health Care Costs and Reimbursement Procedures
No one signs
If you have minor children, this form must be attached to the Judgment. This is informational only. It describes the procedures for being reimbursed for health care costs and for modifying the child support you’ve agreed to in your Judgment.
FL 170: Declaration for Default or Uncontested Dissolution
The Petitioner signs and dates.
This is the testimony that you would have given had you been in court to get your divorce, and which allows you to proceed without either of you having to appear in court.
FL 165: Request for Entry of Default
The Petitioner signs and dates.
This form is submitted if and only if the Respondent has not filed a response or an Appearance, Stipulations and Waivers. This tells the court that the Respondent has chosen not to file a response, that your divorce should be granted without that, and that the court should sign off on the MSA you are presenting with this form. Note that there are FOUR places to date and sign. Almost no one gets that right.
FL 130: Appearance Stipulation and Waivers:
You both sign, if the Respondent has filed a formal Response or has been required to pay the response fee (for example, a response fee is required when filing a signed stipulation, which sometimes happens in the middle of the case.).
This tells the court that you’ve agreed to submit your matter uncontested. You are waiving your right to a trial, and to have a Judge make decisions about the facts of your case. You are also waiving your right to appeal this Judgment. You are allowing a commissioner to sign your Judgment (the court usually appoints commissioners to do this – you are entitled to have a Judge sign your Judgment, though, so you have to waive this entitlement) – If your agreement is for some reason rejected, these waivers don’t apply (so you could go back and have a trial if you wanted to).
FL 141: Declaration Regarding Service of Disclosure.
You each sign your own.
This tells the court that you have completed your first set of Disclosure documents and have provided them to the other party.
FL 144: Stipulation and Waiver of Final Disclosure.
You both sign.
Each of you is legally required to do a “Final” (or second) set of Disclosure documents (the Schedule of Assets and Debts, Income and Expense Declaration, supporting documents and cover sheet). This document waives the requirement for – and each of your rights to request and receive – that second set. This document does presume, however, that you’ve updated one another on any significant changes in your income or your assets.
FL 191: Child Support Case Registry Form.
Each of you signs your own. This is data for the child support enforcement authorities, and doesn’t come into play unless the child support ordered in your Judgment is not paid. You will get a notice from the Department of Child Support Services, but it is simply routine and should not alarm you.
FL 182: Judgment Checklist.
No one signs. This tells the court that you have put together a complete package; all the forms are there. Usually this is the Judicial Council form checklist. However, some counties have their own local Judgment Checklist, and you would be wise to use theirs.
FL 190: Notice of Entry of Judgment
No one signs – this will be mailed to you both when your Judgment is final – it will tell you the actual date of your divorce, and the date the judgment was entered into the court records. Counties differ as to whom the filed copy of the Judgment and other forms will be sent, so once you receive the Notice of Entry of Judgment, check with the person who submitted the packet of paperwork to the court to be sure that you are provided with copies.
Jennifer Jackson is an attorney and mediator practicing in Sonoma and San Francisco Counties. More information in her bio on the “Find A Professional” page.