Q: How long does divorce take in California?
The short answer is that a California divorce takes at least six months. A more honest answer is that it depends on your situation and how willing you and your spouse are to agree on a divorce agreement.
In California, a divorce is initiated when one spouse files legal paperwork to end the marriage. A six month waiting period begins as soon as the paperwork is served on the other spouse.
However, a divorce is not automatically granted at the end of six months. Before a divorce can become final, each spouse must make a full disclosure of his or her assets and debts, and the spouses must agree on property division, child custody, child support, and spousal support. Once a Marital Settlement Agreement is reached and the six-month waiting period is complete, the divorce can become final.
Sometimes, it takes longer than six months to reach an agreement. In those cases, the six-month waiting period is complete, and the divorce can be granted as soon as the Marital Settlement Agreement is filed with the court.
In other cases, the parties cannot reach an agreement on their own. After six months, a San Francisco divorce attorney may notify the court that a trial will be needed to settle the marriage. Getting a court date can take time, but there is a shortcut to divorce.
California divorce law is unique in that couples can request to “bifurcate” a divorce. The court can terminate the marriage any time after the six-month waiting period, while still allowing the couple to continue to negotiate the terms of the divorce. However, bifurcation of a marriage is rare.
If a divorcing couple takes longer than five years to reach an agreement, the divorce will be cancelled. The spouses will have to file the paperwork again to reinitiate the divorce. This will reset the waiting period.
Are you ready to move on? An experienced San Francisco divorce lawyer can protect your interests while helping you and your spouse find a quick resolution to your property division, child custody, and support issues. To schedule an appointment with the women-only California divorce attorneys at the Law Offices of Paul H. Nathan, call 415-341-1144.