How Quickly Can You Get a Divorce in California?

How Quickly Can You Get a Divorce in California?

Once you’ve made the decision to divorce, you’ll probably want to get the process over with as soon as possible – most people do. There are things you can do to make your divorce go more smoothly (like reaching agreements on your own or working with a divorce mediator), but how long will it take?

How Quickly Can You Get a Divorce in California?

We read about celebrities getting a “quickie divorce,” but that’s not the norm. In California, it takes at least six months. There’s a waiting period that begins on the day you serve your soon-to-be ex-spouse with divorce papers (that can be a different day than the day your divorce lawyer files the petition for divorce) – but you must have filed the petition and served your spouse before the clock starts ticking.

You and your spouse can use that six-month period to begin resolving the issues you need to sort out to dissolve your marriage. After you reach a divorce agreement, your lawyer will file it with the court. Then, when the waiting period is done, the court will sign your agreement into an actual divorce decree. (If you can’t agree by that time, your lawyer will notify the court that you need a trial to settle the divorce.)

You’ll need to reach agreements and ask the judge to create orders about:

The Waiting Period and Child Custody

If you and your ex haven’t reached an agreement on custody and come up with a parenting plan by the time you file your divorce petition, you must attend custody mediation.

Residency Requirements and Other Time Frames You Need to Know

  • You or your spouse must have lived in California for the last 6 months to file for divorce here
  • You or your spouse must have lived in the county where you are filing the divorce for the last 3 months to file for divorce here

If you are divorcing a domestic partner and your partnership is registered in California, you don’t need to meet the residency requirements. If it wasn’t registered here, you must meet the residency requirements for married couples.

So About That Quickie Divorce…

While you can’t change the waiting period to get a divorce in California, you can still get divorced if you haven’t settled all your issues. Some people are able to bifurcate their divorces, which means that the court will end your marriage and let you negotiate or litigate other issues in the future.

(In case you’re interested, there are no residency requirements for divorce in Alaska; you can get a divorce in 6 weeks in Nevada; and you can get one in South Dakota after 60 days with no residency requirement.)

Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About Divorce?

We welcome the opportunity to answer your questions about divorce and issues such as custody, child supportspousal support, and the divorce process.

Call us at 209-910-9865 for a divorce case review. You’ll talk to an experienced Stockton divorce lawyer who can give you the advice you need to begin moving forward.