How Long Does A Divorce Usually Take In California?

03Sep, 21

Going through a divorce is a difficult and often stressful process. Though it may be the right decision for you and your family, it is natural to want the process to be as fast and easy as possible. Many clients wish to move on with their lives and want to know how long divorces usually take. Though everyone is different, it is possible to make an educated estimate based on some basic aspects of your situation.

Mandatory Minimum Time

The state of California requires a six month minimum wait time on all divorces. Though many divorces take longer, the court mandates this is the standard waiting period for divorces to be finalized. However, if you and your spouse are certain about your decision and able to get through the negotiation process quickly, you may hand in your paperwork in a shorter amount of time. A judge may even approve your divorce in less than six months. However, your divorce cannot be official until six months have passed from the date you notified your partner of your intent to divorce or vice versa.

Why Is There A Minimum Wait Time?

Many couples feel confused about the mandatory minimum wait time when it comes to divorce. This is because many couples contemplated and discussed divorce far before they actually filed. That said, the mandatory minimum is there to ensure that couples have had a fair amount of time to discuss divorce before it becomes official. There are a lot of legal headaches, fees, and long processes involved in divorce, so the law wants to ensure that the couple is steadfast in their intention to separate.

What’s more, some couples reconcile or work through their differences during these six months and decide to remain married. Enforcing a six month waiting period helps many couples avoid the need to remarry after rushing into a divorce, which can be a legal and logistical nightmare. This time is simply a grace period to ensure that the couple does, in fact, want to get divorced.

Factors That Can Lengthen Divorces

As mentioned, six months is the minimum required time for a divorce to be finalized. Many divorces take longer than that, especially if there are aggravating factors. There is a lot to consider when dividing a family, and some situations simply take longer to reorganize than others. Below are some common factors that can lengthen the time between filing for divorce and officially receiving a legal divorce.

Property Division

When you and your spouse own property together, it takes a significant amount of time and effort to divide it during a divorce. There are a lot of contributing factors determining how the property is to be divided. For example, if the house was owned by one spouse individually before marriage, negotiations may take that into account. If one spouse wants to retain the home in their asset settlement, that is another topic of negotiation. In many cases, the couple decides to sell the home and divide the profits, but in many cases, the home does not sell immediately, and the couple has to wait for the process to end.

All in all, there are a lot of complicated aspects of property division. This difficulty is compounded when the couple owns several pieces of property together, such as cabins, second homes, vacation homes, or rental properties. Additionally, property like cars and boats will need to be divided or sold.

Child Custody

When you have children with the spouse that you are divorcing, it can take more time to get the process finalized. Child custody is a complicated and emotional process, and oftentimes neither side will yield easily.

In all situations of child custody, the court’s top priority is the safety of the children. It is the job of each of the divorcee’s attorneys to convince the court that their client provides a safe and stable home for the child or children in question. This process can get ugly if one or both parties are embittered or vindictive toward the other in their arguments.

As child custody is determined, child support will also be discussed. In some situations, one parent is not prepared to offer physical time or care to their children. If this is the case, child support will compensate for a diminished active role in child rearing.

Your Method Of Divorce

Though the media suggests otherwise, there are many ways to seek divorce. Litigation is by no means the only option. Many couples seek mediation instead, which can take less time.

Sometimes, couples seek divorces online. Though this is not recommended from a legal standpoint, it does work for some people. The process is fairly fast, and without other extenuating circumstances you can expect to stay at the six month mark for your divorce time.

Contested VS. Uncontested

Finally, it does matter whether your divorce is contested or uncontested. An uncontested divorce means that both parties agree on the divorce terms set forth. A contested divorce means that the couple has to go through the process of negotiating the terms of their divorce. Clearly, going through negotiations takes more time and effort than simply agreeing to existing terms. Uncontested divorces, therefore, generally have a better chance of staying below the six month threshold than contested divorces do.

Taking Extra Time

Please note that none of the above are intended to convince you to speed the process along. Yes, in some cases, divorce is straightforward and fairly simple. However, it is okay if your divorce is not this way. It is more important to fight for what is right for you and your family than it is to take the easy route.

It is also important to note that the six month waiting period does not mean that you need to continue living with your spouse for that time. If you both agree to a separation, you can find a new place to live, begin to heal, and even start dating again if that is the arrangement you have. From a legal standpoint, one of the few restrictions is that you cannot get remarried for the six months until your divorce is final.

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