The Divorce Process Timeline in California
If you have recently decided to end your marriage in California, you may feel completely overwhelmed. It’s natural to have lots of doubts and concerns when it comes to the difficult legal proceedings you face. Divorce is a time-consuming, multifaceted, and emotionally draining process that can take months or sometimes even years to complete. Even if you believe your divorce will be fairly straightforward, there are countless variables that might arise and complicate your case. Ultimately, it is very difficult to predict exactly how any divorce will proceed.
It’s understandable to want to have a predictable timetable for your divorce. Unfortunately, it’s very unlikely to be able to calculate how your divorce will unfold with complete accuracy. However, there are some things you should know to help you better understand the process. There are also a few options you may have that can speed up your divorce timetable if you’re willing to be flexible. It’s vital to not only understand the California statutes that will come into play in your divorce but also be aware of your options for streamlining the dissolution process.
Important California Divorce Statutes
One of the first statutes you should understand in your divorce case is the state’s mandatory waiting period. The fastest any divorce can be approved in California is six months from the date the divorce petition was originally filed. While it may be possible to complete divorce negotiations and resolve the terms of your divorce before this six-month window expires, you must still complete the waiting period before your divorce will be approved and finalized.
It’s also essential to understand California’s community property law. California is one of only nine US states that enforces a community property statute. All other US states uphold equitable distribution laws. Under California’s community property statute, divorcing spouses must evenly split all of their marital property. Differences in income and the underlying reason for the divorce do not influence property division determination. Anything earned or acquired during the marriage qualifies as marital property in California and is therefore subject to division.
If you and your spouse have children together, you must be prepared for a family court judge to determine custody and support. You cannot resolve any issues regarding child custody or child support privately, even if you handle the other issues of your divorce through alternative dispute resolution. The California family court must ensure your custody and support agreement aligns with the best interests of your children. This can be one of the most challenging aspects of divorce for parents in California.
Can I Speed Up Divorce in California?
Whether you and your spouse are relatively agreeable or you face a contested divorce, it’s understandable to want to finalize the process as swiftly as possible. However, you should balance your desire for expediency with ensuring a fair and tenable divorce order. You may have more options available to you than you initially realized. There may not be any need for you and your spouse to spend any significant amount of time in court. Alternative dispute resolution, especially mediation, is incredibly effective when it comes to limiting the time required to complete a divorce in California.
Divorce litigation can often require several months or even more than a full year to conclude. When a couple chooses to litigate their divorce proceedings, the process unfolds similarly to many other civil cases. The spouses will likely need to spend significant amounts of time in the courtroom handling tedious motions and responses. Ultimately, the final decisions regarding their divorce rests in the hands of the judge.
Alternative dispute resolution is an accessible, affordable, and effective alternative to divorce litigation. It’s possible to complete divorce mediation in a fraction of the time required for litigation as long as both you and your spouse are willing to actively participate in the process. Your divorce lawyer will help you and your spouse find the best mediator to handle your case. During mediation, you and your spouse negotiate every aspect of your divorce, and your mediator assists in drafting your divorce agreement.
Tips to Reduce the Time Required to Complete Your Divorce
Exploring alternative dispute resolution is arguably the best way to speed up any divorce case. However, several things can streamline your divorce, no matter how you and your spouse choose to handle it. The first is having preliminary discussions with your spouse before any divorce petition is filed. While you and your spouse may not agree on much, taking time to discuss your expectations and preferences regarding divorce can help both of you understand one another better before divorce proceedings begin. You may not be able to expect any firm results or agreements from these discussions, but it is generally a good idea to start a dialogue early and get used to negotiating divorce terms.
Once you are ready to file your divorce petition, you should secure legal representation from an experienced divorce attorney. While you might think you can handle your divorce without legal counsel, this is risky and challenging, even in seemingly ideal circumstances. Your attorney can not only handle the procedural aspects of your case on your behalf, but they can also streamline the case in other ways. They’ll assist you in gathering the financial records you will need to produce and help you make more informed decisions about various aspects of your case.
Ultimately, exploring alternative dispute resolution and securing experienced legal counsel are the two most important things you can do to speed up your divorce. Remember that no matter what your case entails or what steps you take to streamline the process, the absolute soonest you can finalize your divorce is six months from the date you file your divorce petition.
Bickford, Blado & Botros offer comprehensive and compassionate legal representation to clients facing difficult divorces in San Diego, CA. We understand the desire to want to finish the process as swiftly as possible. Our team does everything possible to make the divorce process easier to manage. If you are unsure of how to approach your impending divorce or need legal counsel before your dissolution proceedings, contact Bickford, Blado & Botros today to schedule your consultation with our team.
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