How Long Does It Take to Obtain a Divorce in California?

By Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce mediation; California Divorce MediatorsOne of the major considerations of all divorcing couples is how long will it take for the court to announce a final judgment for their lawsuit. Although much of the duration of a divorce litigation depends on the level of understanding and agreement that the involved parties have with each other, there are some other factors as well that might be taken into consideration while calculating the approximate time for it to get finalized by a judge.

Filing the petition

California law enforces the minimum residency requirement for divorcing couples as at least six months before the petition is filed. In other words, you can file for a divorce only if you have been living in California for the last six months or more. Once you file the petition in court, you are required to serve your spouse with a copy of the divorce documents. The other spouse has a period of 30 days within which he or she must respond to the served documents. However, if you deem it necessary you can work out a waiver of the 30 days period with your attorney and offer some more time to your spouse to make up their mind. 

The 6-month rule

Irrespective of the understanding with your partner, the state law of California stipulates that no couple can get a divorce before serving a six-month “cooling off” waiting period from the date the court of law acquires jurisdiction over the other party. This happens only when you serve your spouse with a copy of the petition and summon as a part of the primary divorce action. The purpose of enforcing this six month waiting period is to give sufficient time to the couple to rethink their decision of separating and ensure that they are taking the right decision. The couple can use this time to resolve their difference and drop the idea of a divorce or work out a mutual agreement regarding visitation, property division, and custody related issues. 

Other issues

If you and your spouse are not prepared for the divorce litigation, you might end up wasting a lot of time struggling with the minute details of your lawsuit. Since there are several litigation-related activities, such as document disclosure, property appraisal, and custody evaluation that must be completed within the duration of the process, it is advisable to finish off with them well ahead of time.

If you wish to get over with your divorce finalization as soon as possible you must discuss this with your spouse and try to work over your disagreements to reach a final settlement regarding the various aspects of the divorce.

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