Once you have realized that you are headed for divorce, one of your biggest questions is likely to be how long the process takes.
The answer to that question is different for every case. Just as every marriage is different, so is every divorce, and there is no exact answer to how long your divorce will take, at least at the outset.
California’s six-month waiting period
However, some California laws can give you a general idea of how long you can expect to wait. California law imposes a six-month waiting period from the time the divorce is filed until it can be finalized.
This means that even if you and your soon-to-be-ex agree to all terms of the divorce on the day you file, you cannot finalize your divorce for at least six months. You can even sign all the necessary documents to finalize the divorce the same day you file, but you cannot file them for six months.
While you may be impatient and ready to move on with your life, there are many steps that need to be taken during the six-month waiting period.
What you can do during the waiting period
If you and your spouse do not have an agreement on property division, you will need to share financial information with each other and determine how you will divide your marital assets and debts.
Additionally, if you have children, you must negotiate a custody agreement that includes legal custody and parenting time terms, how summers and holidays will be split, how custody exchanges will occur and how you and your spouse will communicate.
The six-month waiting period gives you and your spouse the time you need to negotiate these topics. If it becomes clear that you cannot agree, you might end up in divorce or custody court. This will likely extend the process beyond six months.
It is important to have advice through your divorce, to help you reach a fair resolution as efficiently as possible.