Frequently Asked Questions

What is a retainer and is it required?

A retainer is a financial deposit that covers future legal fees. The retainer amount is determined during your initial consultation and once paid it will be placed into a Client Trust Account as required by the State Bar of California. Once the attorney begins working on your case, payment will be deducted from the account. Once the trust account is depleted it is the client’s responsibility to replenish it. Retainers protect the client from incurring bills which they cannot afford and they protect law firms by ensuring that they will be paid for the work which they have performed. At Hawkins Law a retainer is required for all Family Law related services. All of our Estate Planning services come with flat rate fees wherein half of the quoted price will be required to be paid up front and the other half of the quoted price will be due upon completion of the project.

How much does it cost to get divorced?

Just to file the necessary paperwork to initiate a divorce in California, the State requires you to pay a filing fee of $435. From there, it all depends on the individual case. Contested divorces are much more expensive than uncontested divorces. A contested divorce is one in which the couple does not agree on certain aspects of the divorce and they must rely on the court to settle the dispute for them. You are not required to hire an attorney to handle your divorce, however, many people do for contested divorces because so much is at stake. In Fresno County, nearly all attorneys charge hourly for their divorce services. Hourly rates range (that we have seen) between $250/hour to $400/hour. Each attorney working on an hourly basis will require a retainer to be paid up front. (For information on what a retainer is, see #1.) Contested divorces will surely deplete the initial retainer at least one time. The general answer is that divorce is very expensive and can easily cost thousands of dollars.

Does Hawkins Law offer “unbundled” services?

Certainly. Unbundled is the latest term for a la carte services. In other words, perhaps you do not want to pay an attorney to do your entire divorce but you would like someone to write a persuasive letter, or, prepare your Points and Authorities, we can do that for you. Other examples of services that we can provide are: consulting on trial strategy, helping you admit items into evidence, propounding discovery, reviewing your paperwork to ensure it is properly filled out and ready to be filed. Hawkins Law is here to help you in any fashion. Call to schedule a consultation and we can form a relationship that best serves your needs while saving you money and hassle.

How long does it take to get divorced?

It used to be said that a divorce in California would take just over six months. That is not the case anymore. While that is still the law it is almost never the actual timeframe in which a divorce is resolved. In fact, we are starting to see this number is drift closer to 18 months. Things like your commitment to finalizing quickly, the opposing party’s commitment, the working relationship with the opposing party, financial ability to continue to pay for legal services, providing all of the proper documentation necessary to settle a divorce, dishonesty about finances and what you are willing to disclose to your soon-to-be-ex all factor in. For example, if someone is not truthful about all of their assets it will bring progress to a halt as discovery is propounded and the issue is litigated.

Does Hawkins Law accept credit cards?

We certainly do. All major credit cards are accepted.

Who will be working on my case?

At Hawkins Law, Erik will work on your case personally. Anytime you have a question or concern you can call or e-mail him directly. We also have an amazing support staff of highly trained professionals. As your case progresses you may elect to meet with Mr. Hawkins or with one of his paralegals. Only Mr. Hawkins can provide legal advice and represent you in court, therefore, he will always be there helping you traverse the sometimes foreign and intimidating legal system.

I work from 9 AM to 5 PM on Monday through Friday, can you accommodate my schedule so that I can schedule a consultation?

Absolutely! We are here to help you when you need us. With advance notice we can schedule your appointments after traditional business hours or even on Saturdays. There is no extra charge for these meetings. We know that our clients work hard and we want to make this process as easy as we can.

If I need to get in contact with Mr. Hawkins, how long will I actually have to wait to get a response?

Erik takes great pride in being available for his clients. Having said that, he is a family man first. If you need to speak with Erik but cannot catch him during business hours, he will call you back that same night after his children go to bed. That is why we always ask how late we can return your calls. If for some reason you cannot speak in the evening, Erik will contact you the following business day.

How do I?

This free guide is provided as a resource and is not a representation of legal advice. Here you will discover which forms need to be filed with the court to achieve certain objectives. No information is provided that can be construed as legal advice on how to fill these forms out. If you have questions about how to fill these forms out or questions about your case, consult with an attorney or visit the self-help center at the local Superior Court.

File for divorce?

Forms needed: (All are Family Law forms which is represented by the abbreviation FL)

  • FL-100 Petition
  • FL-105 (only if there are minors in the marriage) UCCJEA
  • FL-140 Declaration of Disclosure
  • FL-142 Schedule of Assets and Debts
  • FL-150 Income and Expense Declaration
  • A Blank FL-150 Income and Expense Declaration for the opposing party
  • A blank FL-120 Response
  • FL-110 Summons

If you wish to ask the Court for a Support Order or Child Custody Order you must include:

  • FL-300 Request for Order
  • A blank FL-320 Response to Request for Order

You should file 1 original and at least 2 copies of these forms with the court clerk. The court will keep the original and you will have one copy for your records. The second copy will be served upon the opposing party. Once service of process is complete, the person who served process will fill out form FL-115 Proof of Service of Summons, and if you are serving a Request for Order, they must fill out either a FL-330 or FL-335 which you will file with the court clerk.


Filing and serving the Summons and Petition will give the court jurisdiction to make orders in your case, but it is only the beginning. You will need to prepare and file additional documents to actually get court orders or a judgment of divorce, legal separation or nullity.
Your marriage and/or domestic partnership is not dissolved until there is a signed “Judgment” from the court.

If you do not want to wait until your judgment to get orders for custody, visitation, support, or property control, you may want to complete, file and serve the “Request for Order” packet. The Request for Order is used to ask the court to set a hearing date and make orders. This packet can be served on the other party along with the initial divorce, legal separation or nullity documents.

Ask for Custody or Support?

If this is part of a divorce proceeding, please see “How do I file for divorce?” If you are still married and not ready to ask for a divorce, or, if you are not married and have established that you are a parent of the child, you can ask for the court to make a plan for visitation and support.

You will need to fill out:

  • FL-210 Summons
  • FL-260 Petition
  • FL-105 UCCJEA
  • Blank FL-270 Response to Request

The original and at least two copies should be filed with the court clerk. One of the copies will be served upon the other party and an FL-115 Proof of Service of Summons will be filled out by the server of process and filed with the court.

Get a restraining order?

These forms can be used to ask the court to make orders to protect you and your children or other household members if there has been domestic violence. Some examples of domestic violence are physical violence such as hitting, shoving, grabbing and restraining movement or violent threats with a past history of physical violence.

Fill out the following forms, prior to filing with clerk, Self-Help can review these forms for you. This is an application for a TEMPORARY Restraining Order. If the Order is granted it will be good until the court holds a hearing to determine whether or not a Permanent Restraining Order is required (up to 25 days). There will be a hearing to make the determination and a Permanent Order can be valid for up to 5 years.


  • DV-109 Notice of Court Hearing- Fill out sections 1 & 2 only
  • DV-110 Temporary Restraining Order- Fill out sections 1, 2, and 3
  • DV-100 Request for Domestic Violence Restraining Order
  • DV-105 Request for Child Custody and Visitation Order
  • DV-140 Child Custody and Visitation Order
  • DV-108 Request for Order- No Travel with Children
  • DV-145 Order- No Travel with Children
  • CLETS-001
  • Blank DV-120 Response to Request for Restraining Order

These forms must be filled out and filed with the clerk. Prior to filing it is recommended that you have your forms reviewed by the Self-Help Center at the Superior Court. Once filed, these forms must be served on the Defendant. The person serving the Defendant must then fill out a DV-200 form for Proof of Personal Service. This form is then filed with the clerk.

Males must establish paternity if not married when the child was born before they can request child visitation, custody, or support. Note that once paternity is established, the parent may be liable for child support obligations. To establish paternity, file the following forms with the clerk:

  • FL-210 Summons
  • FL-200 Petition to Establish Parental Relationship
  • FL-105 UCCJEA

Once these forms are filed with the court, they must be served on the other party accompanied by a Blank FL-220 Response to Request. Once the other party has been served FL-115 Proof of Service of Summons must be filed with the court.

Modify my initiation schedule or support payment amount?

If you are already following a visitation schedule or have an Order to pay or to receive either spousal or child support, you can ask the court to change any one or all of these by filling out the following forms:

  • FL-300 Request for Order
  • if it is a support Order, FL-150 Income and Expense Declaration
  • FL-105 UCCJEA

These must be filed with the court clerk. Once they are filed they must be served on the other party and a Proof of Service must be filed with the court. Service of process can be done by mail (FL-335) or in person (FL-330), but there are limitations to each form of service so review the requirements for each form before deciding how to serve the opposing party with process. Include in your packet to the opposing party a blank:

  • FL-320 Response to Request for Order
  • FL-150 Income and Expense Declaration


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