How Long Does a Divorce Take?   

One of the most common questions a person has when confronted with the idea of divorce is “how long does a divorce take?” The divorce process is notoriously stressful and complex, but ultimately, no two divorce cases are exactly the same; therefore, no two divorce cases will unfold the same way. It’s natural to have many questions once you acknowledge that you are going to divorce your spouse. It’s wise to have some idea of the timeline your divorce case will likely take.

How Long Does a Divorce Take in California?

California upholds a strict six-month waiting period that begins once a divorce agreement is filed with the court and approved by a judge. Once the waiting period is over, the couple receives their divorce decree, and the legal process of divorce is formally completed. Six months is generally the fastest possible time to divorce in California, with some rare exceptions. For example, a divorcing couple that meets various criteria may qualify for summary dissolution, significantly expediting their divorce. However, this is only possible under very specific conditions.

The amount of time required for a divorce to complete in California hinges on the divorcing spouses’ respective willingness to collaborate and negotiate their divorce. If the divorcing spouses are unwilling to compromise or mediate their divorce, they will need to litigate. Divorce litigation can last for months or even years, depending on the complexity of the case.

Can People Get a Divorce Without Hiring an Attorney?

It is technically possible to complete the divorce process without legal representation, but this is an unwise choice for anyone facing complex questions in their divorce. Legal representation helps ensure the client receives a fair outcome from the divorce and meets all procedural requirements in the family court. Refraining from securing legal counsel in your divorce could not only lead to procedural errors that complicate your case even further but also significant delays that only serve to increase the time and expense required to finalize your divorce. Hiring an attorney provides peace of mind and ultimately leads to a swifter, more positive outcome.

Is It Better to Initiate a Divorce?

In some cases, it is essential to initiate divorce proceedings, such as domestic abuse or criminal activity. However, when a couple’s marriage simply breaks down due to irreconcilable differences, it does not matter which of the spouses is the first to file a divorce petition. It is a common misbelief that being the first to file for divorce provides a legal advantage in divorce litigation, but this is not the case.

What Can You Not Do During a Separation?

In most divorce cases, especially those involving children, a judge may order temporary rules for the divorcing couple once the petition is filed, such as temporary child custody and support. As divorce proceedings unfold, these rules will adjust until a final ruling is reached. Anyone involved in a divorce case should remember a few crucial rules regarding what they shouldn’t do during divorce proceedings:

  • Refrain from posting about your divorce on social media. This will ultimately reflect poorly on you and jeopardize your negotiating position in your divorce.
  • Do not violate any temporary child custody or support orders, even if you believe they are unfair or one-sided. Your divorce proceedings will provide you the opportunity to correct these issues.
  • Do not start a new relationship or get married. While some divorces occur due to infidelity and affairs outside of wedlock, anyone involved in a divorce should not move forward in a relationship with a new partner until after the divorce is finalized.
  • Avoid getting pregnant. Having a child during divorce proceedings can complicate the process tremendously.

These are simply a few best practices to follow to ensure you do not unintentionally disrupt or complicate your divorce proceedings. Since every divorce case is unique, it is essential to secure legal counsel to represent you in your divorce and to clarify the legal statutes that are sure to come into play as your divorce case unfolds.

Do People Regret Divorce?

Divorce is a very personal matter that can drastically change a person’s life. Some people feel immense regret about a marriage breaking down, while others may simply feel relieved to be done with a broken marriage. Ultimately, it is safe to assume that while many people experience relief and a sense of freedom following divorce, some people may regret their divorces. It is best to be certain that you have passed the point of reconciliation when you initiate divorce proceedings. Once finalized, a divorce cannot be undone, though it is always possible for divorced spouses to remarry each other in the future.

Is There Any Way to Speed Up the Divorce Process?

California’s six-month waiting period for divorce is non-negotiable. Even if you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse agree on everything related to your divorce and fully believe the marriage is beyond saving, there is no way to speed up this waiting period. One caveat to this waiting period is that in some cases, divorce proceedings remain unresolved past this six-month waiting period. In these situations, it is sometimes possible to finalize the divorce while allowing the remaining issues to be settled at a later time.

Do I Need an Attorney to File for Divorce?

While it’s possible to initiate the divorce process and file your divorce petition without an attorney, it is always best to secure legal counsel before proceeding with any type of legal action, especially a divorce. Hiring an attorney means you have a legal advocate ready to answer your questions, clarify legal statutes, and guide you through your legal proceedings with confidence.

Whether you are ready to file for divorce or believe you’re going to be in the near future, an experienced family law attorney is a tremendous asset in these situations. Contact the Law Offices of Lisa R. McCall today and schedule a consultation with our team. We can help you understand California’s divorce processes more clearly and prepare for the difficult proceedings ahead in your divorce case.

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What Our Clients Think

Lisa professionally guided me through the challenging, emotional, and difficult process of building a temporary restraining order case, combined with divorce and custody cases. Lisa kept me clear and focused on the facts, and guided me to make realistic, proper decisions based on those facts. Lisa took the time and energy to make sure I was just as prepared as she was.
Stafford, June 2018
Divorcing from a woman with lawyers up and down her family tree was daunting and yet I’m not about to back down when I know I’m in the “right”. I met with LISA from a referral from my sister. We talked on the phone and in her office multiple times. She helped me before I was even a client and made it very clear. There are several parties in the divorce and she and her firm was one of them.
Steve, July 2018
I am thrilled to offer my highest recommendation for Ms. Lisa McCall, the family attorney who represented me in a high-conflict custody and divorce battle. At our initial consultation I found her to be knowledgeable, thorough, compassionate and surprisingly generous with her time. That continued to be true throughout my divorce case, which was settled out of court in only six months, thanks to Lisa’s work.
Jami, May 2019
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