How Long Does it Take to Get a Divorce in California?

By Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce mediation; California Divorce MediatorsThe state laws of California promote the concept of making the parties go through a specific waiting period before they can be awarded a final divorce or legal separation. The idea is to give time to the couples with marital conflicts, so that they can at least try to resolve their differences and finally make up their minds that they really want to separate and lead independent lives. But how much time does the entire litigation process actually take? Let’s have a look at the various factors and situations which might contribute towards deciding upon how long your divorce case will linger on before you can obtain the final verdict.

Filing the petition 

The residency requirements in the state of California for filing a divorce petition, is six months. In other words, for you to be even eligible for filing a divorce petition, you need to have lived in the state for at least six months. Once you have filed the divorce petition and served the other partner with a copy of your divorce action, the latter has a window of thirty days, within which he or she needs to respond to it. However, the deadline is flexible and can be waived off for providing a little more time to the other partner to respond. 

Waiting period 

The state of California makes it mandatory for the divorcing couples to go through a six-month waiting period within which they can decide upon whether or not they are fully ready to go through with the separation. The waiting period starts from the day an individual serves his or her partner with the divorce papers. The six month long waiting period is also a valuable time frame within which the partners can discuss the various aspects of the separation such as visitation, support, property division and alimony and reach a mutual settlement. All you need to do is ask your attorney to submit the agreement papers in the court, which will then be signed by the judge at the expiration of the waiting period, and become the original decree of divorce. In case you do not reach an agreement, you can go to trial at the end of the waiting period.

In California, if a divorce case lingers on for a period of five years from the day of filing the petition, the petition is automatically dismissed as per the state laws, and you need to file a fresh lawsuit again.

To learn more about the divorce process in California and how mediation can help, please visit our page, What is Divorce Mediation