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How Long Is Divorce Process in California

How Long Is Divorce Process in California?

Divorce case timelines vary from state to state and many have different waiting periods. In the state of California, there are many complexities that impact the divorce process. So, how long is divorce process in California?

Several factors may influence your timelines for California divorces. We will explore what these factors are and how we can help you navigate your divorce case.

How Long Is Divorce Process in California
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How Long Is Divorce Process in California?

Divorce cases in the state of California can get quite complex. The more issues there are to settle, the longer the process is likely to drag out, some can even last for years. 

However, generally speaking, the process of getting a divorce in California usually takes six months to complete, even in uncontested divorces where both spouses agree on all terms. Several factors influence the divorce process timeline, including:

  • Residency requirements
  • Court proceedings
  • Child custody
  • Asset division

Moore Family Law Group can help you navigate your California divorce to ensure your rights are protected. Even if you do not meet the residency requirement yet or are unsure about getting a divorce, our lawyers can help you file for legal separation.  

Our attorneys are family law experts and well-versed in the California legal separation process. You won’t have to go through this emotionally charged period alone as long as you have us. 

During the legal separation process, you may ask the court to make orders regarding the following:

  • The division of property
  • Which one of you will be responsible for paying debts
  • Spousal support
  • Child custody and support

Legal Framework and Timelines in California for Divorce

Residency Requirements 

The first thing you must check before starting the divorce process is that you meet the residency requirements. According to California’s legal requirements, you or your spouse must be a state resident for the past six months to file for a divorce.

Also, you must live in your current county for the past three months. If either of you meet these residency requirements, you can file with your local county court to begin the divorce process.

We must mention the residency requirements provide exceptions for same-sex couples. For example, if you married in California but now live in a state that does not allow same-sex divorces, you may file for divorce in the county you got married in.

Legal separation vs. divorce 

When neither spouse meets the California residency requirements or is unsure about getting divorced officially, they may file for legal separation.

Also, legal separation is an option if you do not want to get divorced due to religious and financial reasons or personal beliefs. One financial reason to remain married to your spouse is if you want to keep them on your insurance or benefit plan.

Moreover, if you do not qualify for divorce yet, we can help you file for a legal separation, as there is no time requirement. The main differences between getting a divorce and legal separation are the following:

  • You file the same forms, but instead of checking the box that says divorce, you check the one saying legal separation. 
  • Regarding the residency requirements, only one of you must live in California, but there are no time requirements. 
  • There’s no six-month waiting period, meaning the earliest you can get officially divorced is six months from the day your spouse is served. But with a legal separation, there is no such waiting period.
  • You and your spouse are still legally married when the legal separation is final.

No-fault divorce timeline

California is a no-fault state, meaning you may file for a divorce without providing a reason as long as you meet the residency requirements. Instead, you may just put irreconcilable differences on the divorce petition. 

But no matter if the divorce is uncontested, meaning you agree on every issue, under California law, there is a six-month official waiting period for the divorce to become official.

However, the timeline may take longer than the designated time frame if the divorce is contested or there are issues surrounding child custody or asset division. Some contested divorces may take years to be finalized.

No-fault divorce timeline
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Factors Affecting the Duration of Divorce in California

Complexities in asset division

According to California law, property is divided into separate and community. Separate property and assets are those you owned before the marriage. According to California law, this property is not subject to division during the divorce, as it belongs solely to you.

However, every property and asset acquired during the marriage is community property regardless of whether the other spouse contributed financially. Community property is split equally between both spouses. However, the more assets there are to divide, the more complications can arise. The only exceptions to this are assets received as an inheritance or gift. For example, if you are going through a high-asset divorce, there will likely be many accounts, properties, etc., to review and divide. This means the divorce timeline will be longer, especially if your spouse is uncooperative or tries to hide assets during the divorce process.

Child custody and support

If you and your spouse share a child/children, you will need to decide and agree on child custody and support. Deciding upon custody and visitation can take longer than other parts of the divorce process, significantly impacting the timeline. 

During child custody disputes, disagreements arise regarding how much time the child/children spend with each parent. Disagreements inevitably end up with one spouse seeking court intervention.

If you cannot agree, the court will automatically send you to CCRC (Child Custody Recommendation Counseling). During these sessions, a court employee works with you and your spouse to decide on a parenting plan. 

Understandably, the counseling sessions may take a while, and coupled with decisions on child support, the divorce process might last even longer until it is finalized.

Negotiation and settlement 

If you and your spouse agree to work together, you may expedite the divorce process. For example, if you are getting an uncontested divorce, you may file for a summary dissolution.

But, to get summary dissolution, you must meet some qualifications such as:

  • You must be married under five years
  • Have no children
  • Agree to waive spousal support
  • Have limited debts and assets

If you do not qualify for a summary dissolution, you and your spouse can negotiate a settlement to expedite the divorce process. If both of you are willing to put your differences aside and work together as a team, you may reach a fair agreement for both sides.

Mandatory Waiting Periods and Court Proceedings

California’s waiting period 

The official waiting period for a divorce in California is six months. This estimate is how long it takes couples to complete all the steps of the divorce process. The following steps affect how the timeline moves along.

  1. The petitioner starts the process by completing and filing the necessary forms. (Petition FL-100 and Summons FL-110)
  2. The filed papers must be served to the other spouse, who is the respondent. 
  3. After filing the petition, the petitioner has 60 days to complete and serve preliminary disclosure papers on the respondent (Declaration of Disclosure FL-140). 
  4. The respondent has 30 days to file a Response FL-120 from receiving the summons. 
  5. The respondent has 60 days from filing the response to filing their preliminary disclosures on the petitioner. 
  6. Attend court hearings if the divorce is contested. 

If the divorce is contested or the respondent is uncooperative, the process will take longer to be finalized.

Court proceedings and hearings 

After you file for a divorce with the court and your case officially starts, the court will set dates for your hearings. However, we should mention that depending on the court’s caseload, the proceedings and hearings may take a while. 

There may be a backlog of cases in the county court where you file. This means that even if the divorce is uncontested, you’ll likely have to wait a while for the court to set your hearing dates.

Moreover, if you are going through a contested divorce, the court will need to find even more time for the hearings and deliberations. In short, the more court involvement your divorce case requires, the longer the process will be.

Legal Strategies for Expedited Proceedings

Mediation and alternative dispute resolution

In order to expedite the divorce process, we encourage our clients to consider alternative dispute resolution options. At Moore Family Law Group, we provide mediation services to our clients.

We have developed a unique mediation procedure to ensure efficient and mutually beneficial outcomes for both parties. If you seek our mediation help, remember that the mediator will act as an impartial third party. 

The mediator will not side with nor represent either you or your spouse. Instead, they remain neutral and assist couples to find fair solutions and reach agreement that benefits both parties.

Efficient documentation and filing

Another part that helps the divorce process move along quickly is efficient documentation. As long as you fill out and promptly file all documents and forms, the process will keep moving forward. 

With a Moore Family Law Group attorney by your side, you will have someone to guide you through every step of the process. Our attorneys are family law experts, proficient in California’s divorce laws.

How Long Take a Divorce in California?

At Moore Family Law Group, we aim to make the divorce process as fast and painless as possible for our clients, so we take a holistic approach. 

This means we work closely and provide legal and emotional support to our clients during this emotionally charged period. Our attorneys will work to create a specific strategy fitting your divorce case’s unique complexities. 

If there is a chance to settle, your lawyer will help guide you through it. Moreover, if you are going through a contested divorce, they will create a court strategy to protect your rights before the judge.

How Long Take a Divorce in California?
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How long is divorce process in California? The shortest period to get a divorce finalized in California is six months. 

But, depending on how complex your divorce is, the legal requirements, etc., the timeline may be longer. With one of our lawyers by your side, you will have a family law expert to help you and protect your rights during the process. 

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