What to Expect in Divorce Mediation With Regards to Document Preparation at Family Law Center

Family Law Center will accurately prepare and file all of your Family Court documents.

You will never have to appear in Family Court. The process for family court document preparation is as follows:

First the mediator will help the parties determine which spouse will be the petitioner and which spouse will be the respondent.

Then the mediator will begin the process of filing family court documents for the parties.

The Divorce Commencement Documents include:

A Petition for Dissolution (Divorce) of Marriage or Legal Separation or Dissolution of Domestic Partnership FL-100;

A Summons FL-110 which contains Standard Family Law Restraining Orders that automatically go into effect for the petitioner once they sign the petition and for the Respondent once they receive the filed petition and summons. The Summons is important, and includes orders related to: Minor Children; Insurance of all kinds; Real and Personal Property, both community and separate; Non-probate transfers and rights of survivorship. NOTE: Please read the back (or second page) of the Summons for more detail regarding these Restraining Orders

A Waiver of the 30 Day Response Time which is included in the Petition to allow the respondent an open response time period to respond while the parties are in divorce mediation.

Declaration Under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction And Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) FL-105 (if you have minor children)

The Process for the Divorce Commencement Documents is as Follows:

We schedule a time for “petitioner” to come in and sign their divorce commencement documents and pay the current Court filing fee. The court filing fee must be paid with a personal check. All other divorce mediation expenses can be paid by credit card, check or cash.

After petitioner signs the divorce commencement documents Family Law Center sends them to Family Court to be filed.

Once Family Court receives the divorce commencement documents they issue a family law case number and court stamp the divorce commencement documents. It takes 3-10 days for the commencement documents to return from Family Court.

When the divorce commencement documents return from Family Court with a case number and court stamp,  we call the “respondent” and schedule a time for the respondent to come to Family Law Center to be served in the privacy of our Family Law office at their convenience with the divorce commencement documents.

The day the respondent receives the  divorce commencement documents by personal service here at Family Law Center is when the “6 months and 1 day” date starts, which will be the earliest date you will be restored to a single person.

After the respondent receives the divorce commencement documents Family Law Center will file a “Proof of Service of Summons” FL-115 with the Family Court listing the date and time the respondent was served.

Declaration of Disclosure

Parties must complete and serve on the other party a Declaration of Disclosure FL-140. The Declaration of Disclosure includes the following forms; Schedule of Assets and Debts FL-142; and an Income and Expense Declaration FL-150. The Declaration of Disclosure and Schedule of Assets and Debts are not filed with the Court. The Income and Expense Declaration FL-150 and the Declaration Regarding Service of the Declaration of Disclosure FL-141 are filed with the Family Court. The mediator at Family Law Center will help the petitioner and respondent complete the Declaration of Disclosure and attached forms to the other parties satisfaction. Family Law Center has a document list they provide to mediation clients requesting the parties provide the necessary supporting documentation for their Declaration of Disclosure and the mediation process.

The parties must serve their Declaration of Disclosure and attached forms on the other party prior to reaching a Marital Settlement Agreement.

Marital Settlement Agreement

When the parties have reached a proposed agreement in divorce mediation and have served their Declaration of Disclosures Family Law Center will prepare their Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA). The preparation and sending of the Marital Settlement Agreement takes approximately 2-4 weeks.

Changes require BOTH parties to agree on the changes. When the changes are submitted to Family Law Center there must be evidence that both parties agreed to the submitted changes.

When Family Law Center sends the Marital Settlement Agreement it also provides a cover letter with instructions on how the parties can submit changes.

There are three ways to submit changes to your MSA to Family Law Center remembering that all changes must be made by both parties and submitted with evidence both parties are requesting the changes be made.

  1.  All of the paragraphs in the MSA are numbered. You may send us a list of the numbered paragraphs indicating your changes, additions or deletions that need to be made, signed by both parties; or
  2. Send us the pages of the MSA with your changes on it. The best way to do this is for both of you to get together and initial the changes on a copy of the pages of the MSA, and when you are done with the changes, mail the changed and initialed pages back to us; or
  3. Schedule a mediation session to review the MSA. In the mediation session you can submit your changes directly and have time to clarify any issues you may have.

Changes to the Marital Settlement Agreement

When Family Law Center receives the mutually agreed upon MSA changes, we will make the necessary agreed changes  to the MSA and then mail or e-mail a revised MSA to both parties for approval. This process  takes approximately two weeks. Upon receiving the MSA, if it meets with both parties approval, they call Family Law Center to schedule a final signing appointment.

Qualified Domestic Relations Order

A Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) is a document to divide a retirement plan at the time of divorce. Family Law Center recommends the QDRO be done and signed at the same time as the Marital Settlement Agreement and the final divorce documents. This allows the Family Court to process both the QDRO and MSA at the same time to preserve and protect the parties retirement interests in the divorce. The QDRO contains specific language required by the retirement plan and IRS. Therefore it often takes 2-6 weeks to obtain a QDRO.

Final Signing

Family Law Center will accurately prepare the required additional family court and divorce documents including but not limited to a Judgment FL-180; Notice of Entry of Judgment FL-190 with postage paid envelopes for both the Petitioner and Respondent; Declaration for Default or Uncontested Dissolution FL-170 and other necessary forms depending on your case.

The parties must schedule a final signing appointment and come to final signing together to complete their divorce. The final signing generally takes approximately 30-60 minutes. The parties will initial and sign the MSA, final documents, and QDRO if applicable.

Final Judgment

Family Law Center will take all the final signed divorce agreement and court documents to the Family Court for the Judges signature.  Family Court takes approximately 6-12 weeks for them to return to Family Law Center the final Divorce Judgment/MSA.

The Family Court will send directly to the Petitioner and Respondent a single-page notice referred to as a Notice of Entry of Judgment FL-190 shortly after the Judge has signed the Judgment/MSA.

Family Law Center will provide both the Petitioner and Respondent with a court endorsed final Divorce Judgment/MSA.  Once you receive the final court divorce endorsed Judgment, please shred all other unsigned copies. Place your final divorce judgment, with the Declarations of Disclosure, in a safe place for future reference.