Getting a divorce in Bakersfield
Court employees prohibited from giving legal advice
Please see "Updated: Divorce in California" for a discussion of the role of the divorce attorney, the value of grief therapy/professional counseling and the need to urgently address domestic violence (including links to statewide resources), plus statutes, residency requirements and proper venue.
Local help with domestic violence
Locally, residents of Bakersfield and Kern County have a selection of facilities and agencies that help with domestic violence, including these online resources:
- Kern County Public Health, Family Violence Emergency Referral;
- Superior Court, Kern County--warning about computer usage, emergencies, overview, links;
- County Violence Prevention Directory;
- County Human Services, Reporting Child Abuse;
- Alliance Against Family Violence & Sexual Assault;
- Community Connection for Child Care (CCCC), resource list, including hotlines, shelters, and legal assistance.
The initial complaint, as well as any subsequent affadavits, motions, etc. will be filed at the Superior Court of California, Kern County. Once there, click on the "Family Law" tab to read more about:
- Family Law Division
- Family Mediation and Investigations, and
- Family Law Facilitator.
'Disclaimer' notice to potential litigants
The court says: "Superior Court of California, County of Kern court employees are prohibited from giving legal advice per section 24004 and 68082 of the Government Code. In addition, court employees may not give advice as to which legal forms to use or how to complete the forms."
In the left-hand column, click on sub-topic "Divorce or Dissolution of Marriage" to read about:
- Summary Dissolution of Marriage (Divorce)
- Legal Separation
- Annulment (Nullity of Marriage).
Summary dissolution process
Couples with few assets and no children may qualify for the simplest divorce process, called "Summary Dissolution of Marriage," but notice the tradeoff in waiving rights for future modifications. According to the court:
With a Summary Dissolution, no court appearance is necessary.
Overview of process:
- Both husband and wife prepare and file a Joint Petition for Summary Dissolution (PDF - Opens new window) together with an optional property settlement agreement.
- After a six-month waiting period, during which either party can stop the process if he or she changes his or her mind, both parties must submit the paperwork for the Final Dissolution Order.
Couples who choose this method of getting a divorce do not have the right to ask for a new trial or the right to appeal the case to a higher court.
Steps to Obtain a Summary Dissolution if you are representing yourself:
- Contact the court in your local area and request a Summary Dissolution packet.
Fees: $3.00 in person or $4.00 if requested by mail
- Read and follow the information booklet/instructions provided with the packet before completing the forms and filing them with the court.
- Both parties must sign and date all copies of the Joint Petition for Summary Dissolution (PDF - Opens new window) and the Property Settlement Agreement form.
- Attach a copy of the Property Settlement Agreement form to each copy of the Joint Petition for Summary Dissolution (PDF - Opens new window).
- File all copies with the Court. The clerk will:
- stamp the date on all copies
- keep the originals of each document
- return the remaining two (2) copies to you. One is for the husband and one is for the wife.
- Pay the filing fee of $289.50.
- Place your copies of all the documents in a safe place.
- Wait six months.
- After the six month waiting period, complete three (3) copies of the Request for Final Judgment form.
- Bring all copies to the court with a self-addressed, stamped envelope for both parties.
Please Note: Either party may file the Joint Petition for Summary Dissolution (PDF - Opens new window) and the Request for Final Judgment with the court after both parties have signed both documents.
The more complex your situation, the greater the need to retain an experienced, trained attorney. In a contested divorce, each party should be represented.
We can help. If you're ready to begin the search for a compatible, well trained, experienced divorce attorney, you can start with our free case evaluation. If you need more information, please browse our site, using the tabs at the top of the page.