How Long Does a California Divorce Take?
The length of the divorce process in California can vary greatly depending on many factors, including how cooperative both parties are and how rapidly they can agree on important topics. Generally, if the divorce is uncontested and all agreements are reached between the couple quickly, it could take as little as six months for a California divorce to become final. On the other hand, if there are contested issues that need to be resolved through court proceedings, then it is possible for the divorce to take upwards of a year or more to complete.
At Khosroabadi & Hill, our lawyers have decades of experience helping couples get through their divorces quickly and amicably. If disagreements do arise, our lawyers are skilled mediators who can seek creative solutions to issues while protecting your best interests. If you’re considering getting divorced or have already started the process and need help, contact us today to learn more about our services.
What Goes Into the Divorce Process?
Before you get started, it’s essential to understand the divorce process. Every California divorce must go through a series of steps, and each step must be completed before you can move on to the next. The length of every step can vary based on your unique circumstances, which will impact the overall time it takes to complete your divorce.
While you and your legal team can take certain actions to speed up some steps, some aspects of the timeline depend on the other party or are subject to minimum time requirements set by the state.
The main stages involved in every divorce include:
- Meeting requirements: All divorcing couples must meet California’s residency requirements. To file for a divorce in the state, you must be a California resident for at least six months. Additionally, you must have resided in the county where you plan to file for at least three months prior to the divorce.
- Beginning the divorce: Once the residency requirement is met, filing a divorce petition with the court and paying a filing fee starts the legal process of ending your marriage. After you’ve filed divorce papers, they must be served to your spouse. Your spouse then has 30 days to respond. Depending on how easy it is to locate your spouse and the speed at which they respond, this part of the process can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to several months.
- Gathering and sharing financial information: To continue the divorce process, both parties must provide each other with complete and up-to-date financial information. This financial disclosure allows you to begin fairly dividing assets and debts accumulated during the marriage. It is vital to be truthful about your finances. If it is discovered that either party is hiding information, it can negatively impact their share of the assets, and they may have to pay for the other side’s legal fees.
- Working out the terms of the divorce agreement: After the paperwork is filed, it’s time to start negotiations to settle various legal matters such as property division, child custody and support, and alimony. If both parties are cooperative and uncontested agreements are reached quickly, the process may only take a few months. However, it can be significantly lengthier if the divorce is contested and the court must get involved.
- Receiving your final judgment: After all agreements between the parties have been made, a set of final forms must be submitted to the court clerk for review by a judge. Processing times can vary on this step, but you can ask the local clerk about typical wait times. Once the judge ensures the paperwork is in order and there are no errors or issues, they will sign off on the final judgment.
Keep in mind that California has a six-month “cooling off” period that starts on the date you serve your spouse with divorce papers. Even if your case concludes before then, the dissolution of the marriage can only occur once six months have passed. Your copy of the judgment will provide the exact date that your marriage will officially be dissolved.
Will Hiring a Lawyer Shorten the Process?
Hiring a lawyer can simplify your California divorce and help expedite the process. With an experienced attorney on your side, you’ll be able to navigate complex legal issues quickly and efficiently. Your lawyer will also ensure that all paperwork is filed correctly and problems are handled promptly to avoid unnecessary delays. Our divorce attorneys have helped countless California couples get through their divorces with as little stress as possible. We understand how difficult this time is for everyone involved and are dedicated to swiftly helping you reach an agreeable resolution.
However, depending on the situation, your best interests may be served through longer negotiations or even a trial. Sacrificing your desired outcomes for a quick divorce can set you up for long-term financial challenges, a diminished role in your children’s lives, and other difficulties. Our lawyers can evaluate your case and explain your legal rights and options. We believe in transparent communication and will always be direct about clearly conveying the anticipated timeline of your case and what to expect as it progresses.
What Complications Can Arise During a Divorce?
Divorce can be difficult, and many complications could emerge during the proceedings, increasing the time before you can finalize your divorce. Common issues that divorcing couples may face include:
- Trouble locating the other spouse to serve the petition.
- Disagreements over child custody and support arrangements.
- Difficulty dividing assets.
- An inability or unwillingness to negotiate with the other party.
Working with an experienced lawyer is the best way to ensure all these matters are resolved properly, quickly, and in the most beneficial manner for all parties involved. Contact Khosroabadi & Hill today at (858) 240-2093 to get the guidance you need!