How Long Will the Divorce Process Take?

In California, the divorce process will take a minimum of 6 months, though it may vary depending on a few other deciding factors. Just as each marriage is different, each divorce may work differently depending on how the couple decides to handle their split and how they lived together as a married pair. If a couple shares children together or owns a high number of assets, for example, the divorce process is likely to take longer. Additionally, if a couple chooses to divorce using mediation rather than litigation, it may take less time. If you and your spouse have decided to divorce, it is important that each of you understands the lawful process in California, time constraints, filing periods, and other factors that may impact your divorce timeline.

Legal Requirements

When a couple wants to seek a divorce in California, they must first confirm that they may lawfully do so. In order to file for a divorce, at least one party must have resided in California for a minimum of 6 months. Additionally, no California divorce may be any shorter than 6 months. Even if you and your spouse have every bit of paperwork waiting and ready, the state will not finalize the divorce until a minimum of 6 months from the date the petition was served upon the respondent. The idea of this stipulation is to give couples time to think through their decision rather than acting impulsively.

Method of Divorce

There are several factors that could add to the projected timeline of a divorce. First of all, there are two different ways a couple may handle their divorce: mediation and litigation. Through mediation, a couple can discuss all of the factors of their divorce, including child custody, child support, property division, spousal support, and any other issues, with the help of an unbiased third-party mediator. This process is typically quicker than litigation and can be less expensive and less stressful. However, if a couple is unable to agree on any of the important factors in their divorce, even with the help of the mediator, they may choose litigation.

When a couple goes to court, each spouse will be represented by his or her lawyer, presenting their own wants and needs to the judge. The judge will ultimately decide everything, including spousal support, how properties will be divided, child support and custody, and anything else having to do with the divorce. This can be the best decision for spouses who are unable to agree through other means, but the process can be more expensive and stressful. Additionally, because litigation requires multiple court dates, it usually takes much longer than a divorce through mediation.

Other Factors in a Divorce

Regardless of whether you choose to divorce through mediation or litigation, if you and your soon-to-be-ex have more to discuss, the process will inevitably take longer. For couples with a large number of shared funds, properties, and assets, it will very likely take longer for them to decide who will take what in the divorce, and how certain things will be divided. Marriages that have lasted 10 or more years typically lead to more shared property than individual property, which could also make property division more complicated and therefore will take longer. Likewise, discussing spousal support and coming together to agree on a set amount and duration can be complicated and sometimes contentious. Any discussions of finances can be difficult and are likely to add to the duration of the divorce process.

One of the biggest factors in a divorce is almost always child custody and support. If you and your spouse share children, expect to have a number of long discussions about how you will divide their time with each of you, who they will live with, who will pay for their medical bills, and so on. There are a number of very important details to work through when it comes to your children’s welfare, so be ready to make difficult decisions. Any good parent wants what is best for their children, which is why child custody and support decisions often take the longest to come to terms with as parents consider the various options.

If you and your spouse have decided to seek a divorce, our firm can help. Our attorneys can sit down with you to evaluate your needs and those of your family in order to better understand the best course of action.

Contact Law Offices of Kenneth U. Reyes, P.C. to request a consultation.

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