How Long Should a Divorce Take In California?

It’s the first question most people ask when facing an annoying or unpleasant task. Whether it’s going to the dentist, getting your oil changed, or heading into the DMV, we all want to know: how long is this going to take? The question is no different when it comes to divorce in California. And while there is a minimum amount of time a divorce will take, there is no maximum time it can take. That said, your focus at the start should be on doing the process right, rather than getting it over with quickly and living with the negative consequences for many years.

A California Divorce Will Take at Least Six Months From Filing

Under California law, a divorce cannot be finalized until at least six months after the date on which the action for divorce was filed. This is the case even where the spouses agree on everything and may have even filed a settlement agreement immediately. It is even true where there was a valid prenuptial agreement covering all issues.

Although six months may sound like a long time, California’s “waiting period” as it were is actually shorter than many other states, which can impose a 1-year or longer waiting period from the date of filing before which a divorce can be finalized.

The Divorce Should Take as Long as Need Be To Resolve Issues Properly

The accurate - if not satisfying - response to how long a divorce will take is that it should take as long as is necessary to reach a fair outcome for you and your children. The process is quicker when both spouses can work together to reach a settlement agreement on all relevant issues: spousal support, property distribution, child custody, visitation, and child support.

If this can be done - and it is absolutely possible to reach such an agreement in a matter of hours and days when the spouses are willing - then your divorce process timeline can be pretty close to the six month minimum. But the longer it takes to reach an agreement on these issues, the longer you might be delayed. If not agreement can be reached, then the issues will have to be litigated before a judge, which can stretch the process to a year or longer.

In general, however, you and your attorney will need to work together to run a cost-benefit analysis throughout of whether it is worth your time and money to get the outcome you want. Given the high numbers often associated with child custody, spousal support, and property distribution, it may be.

Taking longer is not necessarily a bad thing, as being married while separated is quite doable, and temporary child support and spousal support awards can be made before a divorce is finalized. While you will not be able to marry another person until your divorce is finalized, you can still obtain other benefits in the meantime.

Get Answers to Your California Family Law Questions

At Kearney | Baker in Pasadena, we represent spouses through all aspects of the dissolution/termination process. Our partners, Brian A. Baker and Gary W. Kearney, are both Family Law Specialists, as certified by the California State Bar. To schedule a consultation regarding any questions about family law in California, contact one of the family law attorneys at Kearney | Baker today at 626-768-2945.