How Long Does the Divorce Process Take in California?

One of the most commonly asked questions by clients navigating a divorce is how long the process will take to finalize. The answer, unfortunately, is that it depends. The process can go faster or slower depending on the specifics of your case. At Kearney Baker, we understand that our clients want to start fresh with their lives as quickly as possible and we work with them to make the divorce process as effective and efficient as possible.

Contested and Uncontested Divorces

One of the biggest factors in determining the length of your divorce is whether the divorce is contested or uncontested. An uncontested divorce occurs when the spouses agree to all terms regarding their divorce. This includes the distribution of the marital estate, child custody, visitation schedules, spousal support, and more. An uncontested divorce is typically the fastest type of divorce and can be finalized in a matter of weeks or months.

If there is any issue that is disagreed upon between spouses, it is considered a contested divorce. Contested divorce cases take longer because of the time required to negotiate all outstanding issues prior to finalizing the divorce decree. Contested divorce issues are either handled through traditional litigation or by utilizing alternative dispute resolution methods.

Traditional Divorce or Alternative Dispute Resolution

A traditional litigated divorce is one that is managed through the court system. You, your lawyer, your spouse, and your spouse’s lawyer go to court to argue each issue that cannot be agreed upon in your divorce settlement. Some issues may even require a full trial to settle and require the full process of discovery, depositions, interrogatories, and more. This option typically takes the longest of all types of divorces because you are bound to the court’s schedule, and time between hearings can be weeks or longer.

Another option is to use alternative dispute resolution techniques to negotiate any remaining issues in your divorce. This can be done through divorce mediation or collaborative divorce. In both methods, you and your spouse meet outside of the courtroom on your own schedule to negotiate any outstanding issues in your divorce. Because these methods encourage communication and collaboration instead of the confrontational nature of litigated divorce, problems tend to be settled faster. Depending on your availability to meet and the willingness to compromise with your spouse on divorce matters, alternative dispute resolution can speed up your divorce by months compared to traditional, litigated divorce.

Call or Contact Our Office Now

Navigating a divorce can feel like it takes forever, but at the office of Kearney Baker our team of dedicated professionals is here to help walk you through all of your options. Call the office or contact us today to request a free consultation of your California divorce case with one of our experienced divorce attorneys now.