How Long Does a Divorce Take in California?

How Long Does it Take to Get a Divorce in California - Stockton Divorce Attorneys

If you’re considering a split from your spouse, you probably want to know how long a divorce takes in California. The fastest you can get a divorce in California is 6 months – but some divorces take a lot longer. Here’s what you need to know.

How Long Does a Divorce Take in California?

California has a 6-month waiting period for all divorces. The waiting period begins when you serve your spouse with divorce papers. The waiting period is in place to ensure that you really want to go through with your divorce – it gives you time to change your mind before you end your marriage.

What Do You Do During the 6-Month Waiting Period for Divorce?

During the 6-month waiting period, you and your spouse can use that time to resolve issues you’re facing. You might work on things like child custody and visitation, property valuation and division, or other important issues.

If you and your spouse can’t see eye-to-eye and reach agreements on your own, your attorney might suggest that you work with a mediator.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Divorce in California - Divorce Mediation

About Mediation

Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution. It isn’t for everyone – such as couples who have been involved in domestic violence incidents – but it can be very beneficial to many people. The time you spend in mediation will likely be just a fraction of the time you spend litigating in court, and it’s much more cost-effective than litigation, too. Mediation works quickly to help people find common ground.

Your mediator will meet with you and your spouse in a neutral space. You might be in separate rooms, depending on your preference and ability to negotiate, or you might be in the same room. Your mediator will provide you with ground rules that you both must agree to follow. Then, he or she will remind you that everything you say in mediation is confidential.

Once you’ve all established the ground rules, your mediator will start discussing the first issue. You each get a chance to have your say and explain a proposed solution – and then the negotiation begins. The mediator will be the go-between for you and your spouse until you reach an agreement that you’re both reasonably satisfied with.

Learn more: What is divorce mediation?

What Happens at the End of the 6-Month Divorce Waiting Period?

If you and your spouse have reached an agreement by the time your 6-month waiting period is up, the judge in your case can issue a divorce decree.

However, if you haven’t reached an agreement, your attorney will let the court know that you need to have a trial to settle your divorce.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Divorce in California - Bifurcated Divorce

Bifurcated Divorce

Some people can get what’s called a bifurcated divorce, which means that the court will still terminate the marriage and let the now-former couple work out their issues after divorce. Some of the issues you can work on after a divorce is final might include:

  • A permanent custody and visitation agreement
  • The validity of a prenuptial agreement
  • Other important issues that you can discuss with your attorney

The courts sometimes allow bifurcated divorce because it makes more sense. For example, if there’s just one issue holding up the divorce process, your Stockton divorce attorney can file a motion to ask the court to dissolve your marriage before you hammer out the details.

Related: Do prenups work?

How Long Does it Take to Get a Divorce in California - Negotiation

Are There Any Shortcuts to a Fast Divorce in California?

There aren’t any shortcuts to a fast divorce in California. The best thing you can do is work out agreements with your spouse as early as possible so you don’t need to go to trial. If you need to go to trial, your divorce will take much longer. That’s because you have to wait to get on the court’s calendar and wait for the judge to make an evidence-based decision. (Even gathering evidence takes time, so if you and your spouse can’t agree on your own, your divorce could drag on for months. The most difficult cases can take years to resolve.)

Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About How Long it Takes to Get a Divorce in California?

If your’e contemplating divorce, we can help you. We can even help you negotiate your way to a settlement, which means you may be able to divorce your spouse as soon as the 6-month waiting period is over.

Call us at 209-395-1605 for a consultation now. We’ll answer your questions and start building a strategy that gets you the best possible outcome.