Two Broken Golden Wedding Rings resting on a Divorce Decree Document

How Long Does a Divorce Take in California?

The Law Offices of Steven E. Springer April 13, 2023

Relationships are hard work, whether you’ve just started dating someone, are about to get married, or are juggling the responsibilities of raising children. However, if your marriage is ending, you may believe that all that hard work is over—but you’d be wrong. Getting a divorce can be a long and complicated process. When couples initially separate, they often want to know, “How long does a divorce take?” This answer will differ for everyone and is dependent on several factors. 

If you’d like to speak with a divorce attorney in California and are in the Morgan Hill or San Jose, California area, call us at The Law Offices of Steven E. Springer. Our skilled team can help individuals and families throughout the region including Fremont, Hayworth, Alameda County, Santa Clara County, and Pleasanton.  

California Divorce  

Each state sets its own regulations about getting a divorce. In California, there are certain eligibility requirements and procedures you should be aware of. To file for divorce in California, at least one spouse must have resided for at least six months in the state and for at least three months in the county you’re filing in.

The process begins when one spouse files a “petition for dissolution” which will then be “served” to the other spouse. The petition will include your specific requests regarding alimony, property division, or child custody (though you’ll also be required to file a “declaration form” if you share joining children with your spouse). The receiving spouse then has 30 days to respond and this should address the provisions you’ve laid out either accepting them (known as an uncontested divorce) or countering them (a contested divorce).  

Waiting Period for Divorce in California  

There is a divorce waiting period of six months in California and this is true for both contested and uncontested divorces. This period is intended to allow time for both parties to truly consider the step they’re about to take and ensure that divorce is the only way to proceed. A waiting period not only allows each spouse the time to reflect and make informed decisions, but it also ensures that whatever ultimate decision they do come to, it wasn’t made in the heat of the moment. All this said, finalizing the divorce can take at least six months to complete regardless of the waiting period, especially if each spouse retains an attorney and can’t come to an agreement about key issues. 

Factors That Could Affect the Timing

There are several factors that affect how long your divorce takes. For each couple, it will look a little different. One logistical factor may be the residency requirements to file. If you’ve just moved to the state, you may have to wait several months before you’re even allowed to start the process. Another major factor is whether your divorce is contested or uncontested. Uncontested divorces are almost always quicker than contested divorces because the latter often involve complicated circumstances and a lot of back and forth between lawyers.    

Another rare factor could be whether you’re filing for a fault or no-fault divorce. Almost all divorces in the country now are considered no-fault (meaning that you don’t need a reason other than irreconcilable differences to pursue divorce). However, if one spouse is deemed legally incapable of making decisions (say they’re disabled or were in an accident), you could pursue a “fault” based divorce, which would require medical experts to become involved.  

Lastly, there may simply be scheduling issues with the availability of the court and judges that can lengthen the time your divorce takes. 

Take Action With an Attorney’s Support  

To speak with a qualified family law attorney in the San Jose, California, or Morgan Hill area, reach out to us at The Law Offices of Steven E. Springer. We’re here to help you move forward.