Termination of Marital Status Before All Issues in a Divorce are Resolved

March 21, 2011

Jason London, star of the 1993 coming of age comedy Dazed and Confused, (not to be confused with his twin brother, Jeremy, the Party of Five and Seventh Heaven actor who was in the news last year for allegedly being kidnapping while changing a flat tire and forced to smoke crack at gunpoint,) finalized his divorce from wife, Charlie Spradling, last Thursday, according to E! Online.

E! Online reports that London and Spradling, after being separated for a number of years, filed for divorce in February 2010. In November 2010, before his divorce was finalized, London proposed to his girlfriend, Canadian born actress Sofia Karsten. Karsten said yes, and the couple plans to wed in July.

If London was planning on popping the question last November, why did he wait until now to finalize his divorce? Although I can only speculate, the logical answer is that there were issues raised in the divorce that simply weren't resolved until now. But what if London had wanted to get married, and not just engaged, before all of the issues in his divorce were resolved? Could he have done so?

Because London's divorce was filed in February, the earliest he could have gotten divorced was six months from then. This is because in California, there is a minimum six month "waiting period" before you can get a divorce. The six months runs from the date of service of a copy of summons and petition or the date of appearance of the respondent, whichever occurs first. Family Code Section 2339.

Assuming the 6 month waiting period has expired, it is possible for party to terminate their marital status (thus freeing them to remarry) even though all of the issues in the divorce have not been resolved. Family Code Section 2337 gives the court the ability to "sever and grant an early and separate trial on the issue of the dissolution of the status of the marriage apart from other issues." The statute does however set forth a number of conditions that the court may impose upon a party on granting a severance of the issue of the dissolution of the status of the marriage. Generally, these conditions are designed to protect the other party from a number of potentially adverse consequences of the early termination of marital status.