We’ve written blogs in the past about the time it takes to get a divorce in California and the infamous six-month statutory minimum waiting period. Even so, we are constantly faced with clients who come in with the misconception that their divorce will be completely over in 6 months. While that may be the case, experience tells us that a six month divorce is pretty rare.
First, let me repeat: six months is the MINIMUM length of time your divorce can take to be finalized in the state of California. This statutory waiting period is without exception. Whether you are self-represented or you retain an attorney in your divorce case, you cannot legally be “single” until six months has passed from the day you (or your spouse) filed the petition for divorce.
Understandably, almost every person looking to get divorced wants to get it over with as soon as possible. While your legal status cannot change from “married” to “single” in anything less than six months, there are some other things to keep in mind. First, if you have a relatively simple divorce, where you and your spouse agree on the disposition of your assets and/or the custody arrangements for your children, we can theoretically draft and process your marital settlement agreement right away. Once you sign the agreement, it becomes binding. That means all of the issues in your divorce have already been taken care of, we can submit your written agreement and other necessary documents (together called the judgment package) to the Court, and the only thing you would be waiting for is for your proposed judgment to be approved and your legal status to be changed 6 months down the road.
However, you must also keep in mind the time it takes for the Court to process judgments. Even if you are able to settle your divorce in, let’s say, three months, you could submit your proposed divorce judgment to the Court for processing, and depending on how backlogged the Court is at any given time, it could potentially take as long as six months to get your divorce judgment stamped and finalized by the judge. (Currently the Courts are processing judgment packages in about two months, but that can change.) In some cases, one of our attorneys may be able to get this process done more quickly for you.
With all that said, the point is that if you are getting a divorce, you should have realistic expectations regarding the length of time that the divorce process can take. While your legal status may be terminated as early as 6 months after the petition was filed, there are number of factors (assets, children, angry or agreeable spouses, attorneys) that will affect whether your divorce is over in a matter of several months or several years.
Feel free to contact us if you are considering a divorce from your spouse, a legal separation, or have questions regarding property division and trust accounts. Nancy J. Bickford is the only Certified Family Law Specialist (CFLS) in San Diego County who is also a licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with a Master of Business Administration (MBA). Don’t settle for less when determining your rights. Call 858-793-8884 in Del Mar, Carmel Valley, North County or San Diego.