Divorce Guide

Guide To Dissolution

Legal Express is not a law firm. We are not attorneys and cannot give legal advice, select forms for you or represent you in court. We provide document preparation services at your specific direction. Our services are not a substitution for the services of an attorney. If you feel your situation requires legal advice or representation, we suggest you consult an attorney.

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The Purpose of This Overview

This overview will help you understand what is involved so you are prepared to begin the process of your divorce with the help of Legal Express as a Document Preparation Service.

The Role of Legal Express In Your Divorce

One of the difficult moments is over; you have decided to get a divorce. There may be more difficult times ahead but this part doesn’t have to be one of them. You have chosen the services of Legal Express to prepare all of your divorce documents and this overview and the tools we provide you can make your responsibility of providing us the information we need to complete your forms easier. Legal Express is a leader in legal document preparation services. We provide high quality, affordable legal document preparation to consumers who choose to represent themselves in uncontested legal matters. We collect your information in the store and then we submit it to our processing center where our experienced team of legal document preparers will complete all of your forms. Our role is to provide you with the necessary documents to navigate your case through the divorce process and in order to do this we need you to supply us with the information requested. We can only get the job done if you have given us the information we need.

What Legal Express Will Need From You To Start

Your responsibility will be to complete the questionnaires or "workbooks" provided to you so that Legal Express has the necessary information to complete this process for you. We use these easy to complete workbooks to gather the information we need to prepare your documents in the appropriate court format. These workbooks will walk you through providing us the decisions you have made about whatever applies to your particular situation, including:

  • The division of assets and debts acquired throughout the marriage;
  • Custody and visitation of minor children;
  • Child support; and
  • Whether there will be spousal support, and if so, how much and for how long.

Some of the workbooks include, but are not limited to:

  • Request for Divorce/Legal Separation
  • Preliminary Disclosure
  • Division of Assets/Debts Workbooks
  • Visitation Workbook (if applicable)
  • Fee Waiver Workbook (if requested)
  • Petition to Publish Workbook (if applicable)

Utilize any checklist or step by step guide offered by your Legal Express representative so that you will remain organized and informed as to the divorce procedure and what is required of you and when in your particular case. Your divorce WILL NOT be finalized until we have collected all completed and legible workbooks, all forms have been signed, served, and filed with the court, and if necessary, a hearing has been scheduled and attended.

Are court filing fees included in the cost?

The filing fees are not included in the Legal Express fee and are the responsibility of the individual. We can tell you what the court fee is and assist you in filing your papers.

What other fees will I be responsible for?

In addition to court filing fees, some counties have a mandatory parenting class that must be attended if the parties have minor children. Your local county courthouse can provide you with information as to whether this is a requirement where you are filing as well as the fee and class schedule. If your spouse is personally served with the divorce paperwork by a law enforcement agent or process server, you will be responsible for that fee as well.

If I have to go to a court hearing, does someone from Legal Express go with me?

No, we are not attorneys and cannot represent you in court. We provide document preparation services at your specific direction. If you need legal representation, we can refer you to an attorney.

California Residency Requirements

To file for divorce in California, either you or your spouse must have lived in:

  • California for the last 6 months, AND
  • The county where you plan to file the divorce for the last 3 months.

If you and your spouse have lived in California for at least 6 months but in different counties for at least 3 months, you can file in either county.

If you don't meet the residency requirement, you can still file for a legal separation.

Once enough time has passed so that you meet the residency requirement for a divorce, you may file an "amended petition" and ask the court for a divorce.

You do not need to meet California's residency requirement to file for a legal separation. If you file for a legal separation, you may later be able to file an amended petition to ask the court for a divorce-after you meet the residency requirements.

In a legal separation case, you can ask the judge for orders like child support, spousal support, partner support, custody and visitation, domestic violence restraining orders, or any other orders you can get with a divorce case.


A divorce in the State of California is called a Dissolution of Marriage. California law allows for dissolution of marriage on grounds of irreconcilable differences, and incurable insanity. Irreconcilable differences are statutorily defined as those differences determined by the court to be substantial reasons for not continuing the marriage and which make it appear that the marriage should be dissolved. For a Decree of Dissolution of Marriage to be granted based upon incurable insanity, proof must be presented to the court that at the time the petition was filed, the insane spouse was, and still is, incurably insane.

What's the difference between a divorce, a legal separation, and an annulment?

A divorce (also called "dissolution of marriage") ends your marriage. After you get divorced, you will be single, and you can marry or become a domestic partner again.

If you get divorced, you can ask the judge for orders like child support, spousal support, custody and visitation, domestic violence restraining orders, division of property, and other orders.

A legal separation does not end a marriage. You cannot marry or enter into a partnership with someone else if you are legally separated (and not divorced). A legal separation is for couples that do not want to get divorced but want to live apart and decide on money, property, and parenting issues. Couples sometimes prefer separation for religious reasons.

An annulment (or "nullity of marriage" or "nullity of domestic partnership") is when a court says your marriage is NOT legally valid. A marriage that is incestuous or bigamous is never valid. Other marriages and partnerships can be declared "void" because:

  • of force, fraud, or physical or mental incapacity;
  • one of the spouses was too young to legally marry; or
  • one of the spouses was already married.

Annulments are very rare. If you ask to have your marriage annulled, you will have to go to a court hearing with a judge. Legal Express cannot assist in preparing forms for annulment.

Note: If you have children in common with the other party, you must ask the court to establish the parentage of that person.

When is the divorce final?
You can turn in the papers for getting your Judgment 31 days after your spouse has been served. As soon as your Judgment is entered by the Court (signed by the Judge), all orders are effective, but your marriage is not finally dissolved until six months after notice was served on your spouse.
What if we’ve already divided our community property?
It is still community property and it stays that way until it is formally divided by the Court. Even if it has already been divided by agreement of the parties and physically transferred, both parties own it as tenants in common until changed by Court order. This is also true of community debts.
What if we reconcile?
Reconciliation is a state of mind that goes beyond dating or occasionally sleeping together. But, what do you do about the dissolution if you are certain you no longer want a divorce? If no Response has been filed and no Judgment has been obtained, the case can be dismissed and Petitioner alone can file a Dismissal form. If there’s been a Response, both parties have to sign the Dismissal.
When can I remarry?
You cannot remarry until the Judgment has been entered and the date specified on it for termination of your marriage has passed, at least six months after the date the Summons was served on your spouse.
Divorcing Aliens
Resident aliens who are divorced after less than two years of marriage are in danger of losing their resident status and they and their dependent children may be in danger of deportation. There will, however, be no prejudice to status if the divorce was caused by child or spouse abuse. If there’s a recent green card in your case, you should consult with an immigration attorney.
Divorce after a Judgment of Legal Separation
If you get a legal separation Judgment and later want to be divorced, you have to start from scratch and file a new case. It should be smooth and easy since all issues were previously decided in the legal separation case.
What if I want to file for bankruptcy?
If one spouse is considering bankruptcy with large amounts of community debt, the other spouse will be affected. Therefore, your spouse should be notified and given the opportunity to join.
What is the date of separation?
The date you and/or your spouse decided you didn't want to be husband and wife. Even if you continue to live together you can consider yourselves separated.
What debts am I responsible for now?

Income, accumulations and debts of either spouse that are acquired after the date of separation are their own separate property, whether or not a divorce action has been filed. You are responsible for all community debts incurred by either spouse between the marriage and separation. Debts from before marriage or after separation are separate property (and responsibility) of whoever incurred them.

You can be responsible after separation for accounts that are in both of your names or in the name of either spouse with merchants who are accustomed to dealing with you as a couple and have not been notified that you are separated and want your name removed from the account. Give these creditors notice in writing.

You will always be liable for any debt for which you were originally liable when it was incurred. If your spouse is ordered by the Court to pay a specific debt and your spouse fails to pay it, the creditor can come after you or repossess the property.

What is a Declaration of Disclosure?
A Declaration of Disclosure lists full and accurate information about your property, debts, income and expenses to the other party. Spouses must always be completely open and honest in their dealings with each other. Within 60 days of serving the Petition, each spouse must serve on the other (by mail is easiest) a Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure. It lists all assets and debts, in which the spouse has an interest, along with a completed income and expense declaration. At or before the time you enter into any final agreement for support or the division of property, each spouse shall serve on the other spouse a Final Declaration of Disclosure. In other words, you are telling the court that you have complied with the disclosure law. In some counties, you and your spouse can waive the Final Declaration of Disclosure in your Marital Settlement Agreement.
How the divorce process works

Step 1: Choose The Proper Court

You will begin by answering a series of questions to make sure that the State of California has "jurisdiction" over the parties and issues in your case, that the case is filed in the proper county.

Step 2: File The Initial Document Package With The Court

After your initial papers have been prepared and signed, they will be filed with the court clerk.

Step 3: Serve The Initial Documents

After the documents have been filed with the court, they must be properly served on your spouse. There are two ways to meet these "due process" requirements. Either your spouse can choose to accept service by signing an Acknowledgement of Service or he/she must be formally served with the documents.

Step 4: Entry Of Default (If No Response Is Filed)

If your spouse has either signed a Acknowledgment of Receipt or has been formally served with the Summons and Petition and has failed to respond within 30 days, he/she is "in default" and his/her default may, on your application, be entered by the court clerk. Once the default has been entered, the Respondent will be foreclosed from responding or appearing in the case unless he/she is able to successfully move to have the default vacated.

Step 5: Financial Disclosure

It is the policy of the State of California to insure a proper division of community property and to further insure that child and spousal support awards will be fair and equitable. To this end, California Family Code Section § 2100 et seq. mandates the exchange of prescribed "preliminary" and "final" declarations of disclosure, along with current income and expense declarations, in all marriage dissolution, legal separation and nullity actions. We'll prepare the financial disclosures for you based on the information you provide to us in our simple workbooks.

Step 6: Prepare & Notarize A Marital Settlement Agreement (or "MSA")

If we have served the Respondent with the Summons and Petition and he/she has defaulted (failed to file a Response) and your case is not going to settle by way of an agreement, you will skip this step and move to Step 8. However, if you and your spouse are going to settle the case by way of agreement, we will prepare an agreement which resolves all of the issues in your case. Generally these issues include:

  • Child Custody
  • Child Support
  • Child Visitation
  • Spousal Support
  • Division Of Community Property
  • Division Of Community Property Debts

Step 7: Prepare Order To Withhold Income For Child Support (Wage Garnishment)

Whenever a support order is made or modified, the court must include in the order an Order/Notice To Withhold Income For Child Support that directs the paying spouse’s employer to pay to the party receiving support that portion of the paying spouse’s earnings due or to become due as will be sufficient to pay (a) the support amount ordered by the court, and (b) an amount ordered to be paid toward liquidation of any arrearage.

Step 8: Prepare & File The "Judgment Package"

The end result and the final goal of the action for dissolution or marriage, legal separation, or nullity is to obtain a Judgment from the court. The Divorce Judgment dissolves the marriage and is a court order which resolves the issues between the parties such as child custody and visitation, child support, spousal support, property division, debt division, and the payment of attorney fees and costs. Whether you obtain that judgment with the agreement of the other party or after the other party’s default or after hearing of the matter at trial, a proposed "Judgment package" of documents must be prepared for submission to the court.

Step 9: Serve The Judgment

Where there are orders in the Judgment enforceable by contempt (such as child & spousal support orders or restraining orders) it is important that a conformed copy of the Judgment be personally served on your spouse and that you obtain a proof of service of the Judgment. Failure to properly serve notice of any order enforceable by contempt on the other party may make it impossible for you to bring a contempt action later to enforce it.

The Possible Paths Your Divorce May Take:

A divorce case in California begins when the "Petitioner" files a Petition For Dissolution Of Marriage in the Superior Court asking the court to dissolve the marriage and to deal with any issues between the parties arising out of the marital relationship such as child custody, child support, spousal support, property division, debt division, payment of attorney fees and court costs, etc. How the case is subsequently handled depends on whether your spouse – the "Respondent":

  • fails to file a Response to the Petition or,
  • cooperates to settle the case by way of agreement or,
  • files a Response and contests the issues in the case.
  • Depending on what your spouse decides to do - there are three ways to resolve the issues in the case:

1. Default Divorce:

The Respondent in the case fails to timely file a response to the petition for divorce or legal separation; in which case the Respondent’s "default" is entered by the court clerk and the matter proceeds without the Respondent’s participation.

2. Uncontested Divorce:

A case is "uncontested" when the parties work together to settle the issues by way of written agreement. This may be the case where the Respondent initially defaults or where the Respondent files a Response and the parties later decide to settle.

3. Contested Divorce:

A case is "contested" when a Response to the petition is filed, the parties are unable to agree on the issues, and the court must resolve them for the parties in a trial. If your divorce becomes contested, Legal Express can assist only to a limited extent. Please see your Legal Express store representative for more information.

How does the court determine child support?

Child support: Either or both parties may be ordered to pay an amount reasonable and necessary for the support of any minor children of the marriage. The State of California has enacted child support guidelines which establish the presumptive correct amount of child support due. Deviation from the guidelines requires the court to state in writing why the application of the guidelines would be unreasonable or unjust, and:

  1. The amount of support that would have been ordered under the guidelines;
  2. The reasons for the deviation; and,
  3. The reasons the support ordered is in the best interests of the child. Child support is mandatory in all actions involving minor children. Petitioners with minor children must include an order for child support, even if the other parent is unemployed or cannot be found
Will I have to pay spousal support?

Spousal Support: Spousal support, as it is now commonly called, has in the past been known as "alimony". Spousal support is not mandatory in most states. However, if the circumstances are such that a spouse will face hardships if he or she does not receive financial support after the divorce, than spousal support should be considered. The deciding factor regarding spousal support is the need to maintain the spouse at his or her customary standard of living. In other words, the law recognizes that a wife (or husband) should not be forced to live at a level below that enjoyed during the marriage. However, other factors also need to be considered. For example, spousal support should most likely not be considered if:

  1. The marriage was for a short duration (under two or three years), and both spouses are employed and self-sufficient.
  2. This does not mean that the parties cannot agree on spousal support, which the court is, more or less, bound to accept.
  3. Spousal support can run for an unlimited period, subject to the death or remarriage of the recipient spouse, or it can be fixed to terminate on a specific date.
What if I cannot find my spouse?

If your spouse cannot be located, you have to use a special method of service called Service by Publication. It requires three forms and a little more money, and there is an additional fee to Legal Express and you will need to complete an extra questionnaire, detailing the information outlined below, but it is not all that difficult. There is also a fee to the newspaper to publish notice of the summons. When you file your Application for Order of Publication, you must be able to prove to the court that you have exhausted all other means to locate and serve your spouse. This process is known as Due Diligence. You should do all of the following steps.

  1. Keep copies of your letters and responses, and keep a diary of contacts.
  2. Try personal service. Use the Sheriff or a process server, as they can give you documentation of their inability to find your spouse.
  3. Try service by mail. Be sure to label the envelope "Return in 5 days if undeliverable." Send it registered and keep returns to show failure.
  4. Contact all relatives and friends who might know spouse’s whereabouts.
  5. Contact spouse’s last known employer.
  6. If you receive welfare for children, contact the Department of Child Support Services to seek help in locating your spouse.
  7. Check the County Tax Assessor’s records (DMV and Registrar of Voters records are no longer available to the public.)
  8. If all this turns up nothing, you then petition the court for permission to publicize. Call the Clerk’s office to find out which local newspapers they use for publication, and then call the newspapers to find out how much they charge for Publication of Summons. It may seem silly to do the publication in your own town when you think your spouse lives in another town, or even another state, but that is how the law is written. When the judge signs your order, take the papers and your Summons to the newspaper you chose. The paper will publish the Summons once a week for four weeks, and then mail confirmation of publication to you. The effective date of service is seven days after the last date of publication. Wait 30 days after that, then file your Proof of Service, then proceed as shown in the rest of this guide.


Joint Custody – means both joint physical and joint legal custody.

Joint Legal Custody – means both parents share the right and responsibility of making decisions relating to the child’s health, education and welfare.

Joint Physical Custody – means each parent will have significant periods of physical custody arranged to assure the child has frequent and continuing contact with both parents. It does not need to be 50/50; even 70/30 would be okay.

Sole Physical custody – means the child(ren) will live and be under the supervision of one parent.

Sole Legal Custody – means that one parent has the right to make decisions relating to the child’s health, education and welfare.


amend: To add to or change a claim that has been filed in court.


annulment ("nullity of marriage"): A legal action that says your marriage was never legally valid because of unsound mind, incest, bigamy, being too young to consent, fraud, force, or physical incapacity.


appearance: Going to court. Or a legal paper that says you will participate in the court process.


arrearage: Child support that is overdue or unpaid. A parent that has arrearages is "in arrears."


at-issue memorandum: A legal paper filed in a civil case that says the case is ready to go to trial.




1. Document attached to court papers to give more information;

2. A way to collect a judgment: by getting a court order that says you can take a piece of property.

caption: What is written at the top of all papers (called "pleadings") given to the court. It says things like the case name, court, and case number.


case number: Identification number that the court clerk’s office gives a case. This number is on all papers filed in the case. Also called "case ID."


cause of action: The charges (or "counts") that make up the case or lawsuit.


child support: Money paid by a parent to help support a child or children.


citation: A court order or summons that tells a defendant what the charges are. Also tells the defendant to go to court and/or post bail.


community property: Community property is everything that a husband and wife or registered domestic partners OWN TOGETHER. In most cases that includes:

1. Money or benefits like pensions and stock options that you now have which either of you earned during the time you were living together as husband and wife or as registered domestic partners; and

2. Anything either of you bought with money earned during that period.




complaint: In civil cases, a written statement filed by the plaintiff that starts a case. Says what the plaintiff thinks the defendant did and asks the court for help. Also called the "initial pleading" or "petition." A complaint is also used to start a criminal case.


court order: A legal decision made by a court that commands or directs that something be done or not done. Can be made by a judge, commissioner, court referee, or magistrate.


court stamp: An raised seal press or stamp that prints or stamps a seal on court papers. It might say the name of the judicial district or the consolidated city and county. You can read the stamp in photocopies.


custodial parent: The parent that has primary care, custody, and control of the child(ren).



1. When someone is under the physical control of the court to make sure they go to court when they’re supposed to;

2. When the court imprisons a person after they are found guilty of a crime;

3. The care and control of children.


custody order: A court order that says who a child will live with and who should make decisions about health care, education, and other important things.


declaration: A sworn, written statement that is used as evidence in court. The statement supports or establishes a fact. The person that makes the declaration certifies or declares under penalty of perjury that the statement is true and correct. The person that makes the declaration is called the "declarant." The declarant must sign and date the declaration. The declaration must also say where the declaration was signed or that it was made under the laws of the State of California.


default: When a defendant in a family law case doesn’t file an answer or go to court when they’re supposed to, but was properly notified. This is called being "in default."


default judgment: A court decision in favor of the plaintiff when the defendant doesn’t answer or go to court when they’re supposed to.


dependent: In family law, this usually means a child that is financially supported by another person. In juvenile law, this means a minor that is in the custody of the court because he or she was abused, neglected, or molested or is physically dangerous to the public because of a mental or physical disorder.


dissolution: A marriage that is ended by a judge’s decision, also known as a "divorce."


divorce: A common name for a marriage that is legally ended.


endorsed-filed copies: Copies of court papers that are stamped in the top right corner to show when they were filed. These documents are also known as "conformed" copies.


establish: A process to prove paternity (fatherhood) and/or to get a court or administrative order for child support.


ex parte: These Latin words mean "from 1 side only." An example is a motion that is made without giving notice to the other side. In many courts, even ex parte motions require 24- hour notice to the other side except under unusual circumstances.


family law court: A court that hears family matters, like divorce ("dissolution"), legal separation of spouses, annulment of marriage or domestic partnerships, child custody and support, and domestic violence petitions.


fee waiver: Permission not to pay the court's filing fees. People with very low income can ask the court clerk for a fee waiver form.


guidelines: In family law, a standard method for figuring out child support payments based on the income of the parent(s) and other factors according to state law. The Federal Family Support Act of 1988 says states must use guidelines to calculate support for each family unless there is a written court finding saying the guidelines would be inappropriate for that case.


in propria persona (in pro per): When a person represents himself or herself without a lawyer. This comes from the Latin for "in one's own proper person."




1. The official decision of a court that resolves the dispute between the parties to a lawsuit;

2. The official decision or finding of a judge or administrative agency hearing officer about the respective rights and claims of the parties to an action; also known as a "decree" or "order," and may include "findings of fact and conclusions of law";

3. The final decision of the judge stating which party has won the case and the terms of the decision.

judicial district: The state is divided into judicial districts that define the geographical area of each court's authority.




1. The legal authority of a court to hear and decide a case;

2. The geographic area over which the court has authority to decide cases;

3. The territory, subject matter, or persons over which lawful authority may be exercised by a court.

legal separation: You and your spouse or domestic partner can end your relationship but still remain legally married or partnered, and get court orders on parenting and money issues, with a judgment of legal separation.


marital settlement agreement: In a dissolution of marriage, legal separation, or annulment, a stipulated judgment will often include a marital settlement agreement (MSA). A marital settlement agreement is a written contract between you and your spouse that contains detailed legal wording about how the issues in your case will be handled. It is usually used when there are complicated issues of property, debt, support, or custody that need to be set out in the judgment.


memorandum to set: A paper filed by 1 or more parties in a court case saying the case is ready for trial.


minute order: The courtroom clerk's written minutes of court proceedings. Copies of the minute orders are usually kept in the case files and the court clerk's office.


modification: A change or alteration, like modification of a sentence (where the terms of punishment for a defendant are changed) or of a probation order (where a new probation order is issued changing the terms of the original order).


noncustodial parent (NCP): The parent that does not have primary care, custody, or control of a child.


notice of entry of judgment: A court form telling the parties about the judge's decision in a lawsuit.

paternity: Legal determination of fatherhood. Paternity must be determined before a court can order child support or medical support.


paternity suit: A lawsuit to determine the father of a child whose parents were not married when the child was born.


personal service: Personal delivery of court papers by handing a copy to the person that is served.


petitioner: A person that presents a petition to the court.


proof of service: The form filed with the court that proves that court papers were formally served on (delivered to) a party in a court action on a certain date.


public assistance: Benefits, like money or food stamps, to help people or families in need. Information on people that apply for certain kinds of public assistance (like Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, TANF) is automatically sent to the state IV-D agency to identify and locate the noncustodial parent, establish paternity, and/or obtain child support payments. This lets the state get back some or part of the money it pays to people as public assistance.


qualified domestic relations order (QDRO): An order or judgment issued by a court and approved by a pension plan that divides a pension plan in order to make a fair division of property or to pay for child or spousal support.


respondent: The person against whom an appeal is made; the responding party in a dissolution, nullity, adoption, or probate case.


separation date: The date of separation for divorces or registered domestic partnerships is when one spouse (or both) or one partner (or both) decides that the marriage or partnership is over and takes some actions to show this (like moving out of the house).


separate property: Separate property is everything that a husband or wife or registered domestic partners OWNS SEPARATELY. In most cases that includes:

1. Anything that you owned before you got married or registered as domestic partners;

2. Anything you earned or received after your separation; and

3. Anything that either of you received, as a gift or by inheritance, at any time.



service by publication: When service of process is done by publishing a notice in a newspaper or by posting on a bulletin board of a courthouse or other public facility after a court determines that other means of service are impractical or have been unsuccessful.


settlement agreement: In a dissolution, legal separation, or annulment of marriage or domestic partnership, a stipulated judgment will often include a settlement agreement. A settlement agreement is a written contract between you and your spouse or domestic partner that contains detailed legal wording about how the issues in your case will be handled. It is usually used when there are complicated issues of property, debt, support, or custody that need to be set out in the judgment.


spousal support: Court-ordered support of a spouse or ex-spouse; also called "maintenance" or "alimony."


stipulated judgment: An agreement between the parties to a case that settles a case. For example, if you and your spouse agree on all the matters about your divorce, you can submit a stipulated judgment to the court. The stipulated judgment must be signed by both you and your spouse, and will list your agreements about the division of property and debts, child and spousal support and child custody and visitation. Once the stipulated judgment is signed by the judge, it becomes the judgment in your case.


stipulation: An agreement relating to a pending court proceeding between parties or their attorneys.


substituted service: Service of process on a party by leaving the court papers with someone other than a party to the lawsuit; valid only if certain specified procedures are followed.


summons: A notice to a defendant or respondent that an action against him or her was filed in the court issuing the summons and that a judgment will be taken against him or her if the defendant or respondent doesn't answer the complaint or petition within a certain time.


visitation: A parent who does not have physical custody is usually given reasonable visitation time with the children, unless there is some reason it would be detrimental to them.


wage withholding: A legal procedure that allows deductions to be made from wages or income on a regular schedule. The deductions are used to pay a debt, like child support. Wage withholding often is incorporated into a child support order. It can be voluntary or involuntary. Also known as "income withholding."



joint tenancy: Joint ownership by two or more persons with right of survivorship; all joint tenants own equal interest and have equal rights in the property.


tenancy in common: Ownership by two or more persons who hold undivided interest, without right of survivorship; interests need not be equal.


tenancy by the entirety: A form of ownership by husband and wife whereby each owns the entire property. In event of the death of one, the survivor owns the property without probate.


trust deed: Just as with a mortgage, this is a legal document by which a borrower pledges certain real property or collateral as guarantee for the repayment of a loan.


grantor: Anyone who gives the deed.


grantee: The party to whom the real property is given to: the buyer.

quit claim deed: A deed operating as a release; intended to pass any title, interest or claim which the grantor may have in the property.

When people are in the process of getting a divorce, many times they find that they need to address other legal issues. Some of the issues that Legal Express can help you with are:
Interspousal, Warranty or Quitclaim Deeds
A deed is a legal document that transfers rights to land. A Quitclaim Deed (sometimes mistakenly called a Quickclaim Deed) is a special kind of deed. It transfers whatever rights a person has in a piece of land to another person. Such as when you need to have a deed prepared to remove a name, add a name or possibly just change the manner in which you own real property, such as if you intend to keep the property 50/50 but want to deed it to yourselves as unmarried persons, or maybe change from joint tenants to tenants in common.
Requests for Emergency or Temporary Orders; Requests for Modifications to Current Custody, Visitation and Support Orders

An Order to Show Cause (OSC) or Notice of Motion is a way to require both parties to appear in Court to obtain a court order. An order may make someone do something, like pay child support, spousal support or set visitation or child custody. Or it may stop someone from doing something, like harassing another person. Also, an order may simply set a date for something to happen, like the beginning of a trial.

A Stipulation and Order is an agreement between two parties, commonly used to change custody, visitation or support arrangements that will be filed with the court and signed by a judge.

! Before or in conjunction with a divorce, paternity or legal separation

" Order to Show Cause / Notice of Motion - used to have custody, visitation and support issues settled prior to the judgment being issued or in conjunction with a divorce, paternity or legal separation or in conjunction with a divorce, paternity or legal separation

! After orders have already been issued via a divorce, legal separation or paternity

" Order to Show Cause / Notice of Motion - used to have custody, visitation and support issues modified after the judgment has been issued

" Stipulation and Order - used to present an agreement between the parties to the Court for a Judge=s signature on a modification of a current order

" Restoration of Maiden Name - following divorce

orders have already been issued via a divorce, legal separation or paternity

orders have already been issued via a divorce, legal separation or paternity

or in conjunction with a divorce, paternity or legal separation orders have already been issued via a divorce, legal separation or paternity

Estate Planning and Powers of Attorney

After a divorce, many people will need to make or change a will, living trust or create powers of attorney.

A Will describes what a person wants to happen to things he or she owns when he or she dies. It also allows you to nominate a guardian for a minor child as well as a custodian for any inheritance intended for a minor.

A Codicil is a written change to a Will. Like a Will, it must be dated, signed and have witnesses. Also, it must mention the Will you are changing.

A Trust is a relationship between people and property. One person (the trustee) has title to the property. The trustee holds the property for the benefit of him/herself or another person (the beneficiary(ies)). You can be the trustee and the beneficiary of your own living trust. This allows you to maintain control of your property. A trust also allows you to nominate a guardian for a minor child as well as a custodian for any inheritance intended for a minor.

At death, most property must pass through probate (a formal court proceeding) before it can be inherited. However, property held in a trust does not. This is why most people prepare a living trust to avoid probate.

A Trust Amendment changes the terms of the trust. Either a settlor or a trustee can amend a living trust.

A Living Trust Revocation ends a trust early. Generally, a trust continues to exist until there is no property left in the trust. However, a trust may end before that. This happens when a trust is either terminated or revoked by the person who created the trust. If you currently have a trust with your ex-spouse, you will need to revoke that trust and do a new trust for the benefit of yourself and/or your children since you probably won’t want your ex-spouse as a beneficiary to your new trust.

A Power of Attorney is a legal document that grants another person the right to act on your behalf. Powers of Attorney can be made for both medical decisions and for financial matters.

Just as Legal Express is here to help you through all of your divorce proceedings, we can help you with the other related issues that arise because of the divorce process.

Please see your Legal Express store representative for more information.