How Long Do I Have to Wait to be Divorced in California?
Sometimes we get a call from an individual asking for a “same-day” divorce. Better yet, we get a call back from a prospective client saying they’ve found another attorney who can give them a one-day divorce. Putting this deceptive marketing tactic from unscrupulous attorneys aside, a divorce cannot be finalized in one day. Despite what these callers are led to believe, there is no one-day divorce that results in your marriage terminating tomorrow. Rather, a divorce may be filed and the other spouse served, but in California, there is a six month waiting period required by statute before any divorce can be finalized.
The 6 Month Rule
Most couples in California can be divorced in 6 months plus one day, but it all comes down to the date of service. The courts in California use the 6-month period as a cooling-off period. It provides the couple the opportunity to dismiss the divorce should they wish to reconcile and continue the marriage.
Before you make a final decision on your marriage, it is best to consult with a local divorce attorney who can help you understand your rights and responsibilities. This can be helpful especially if you and your spouse have children or marital assets.
The Divorce Timeline in California
In California, a divorce is officially started when you file a petition for divorce in court. The 6-month waiting period (plus one day) is the earliest date the couple can be considered legally divorced. This is also the earliest either spouse can remarry.
Submitting the documents correctly to the court can save you time, frustration, and money. If you are unsure what documents need to be filed, contact a Sacramento family law attorney.
Time of Separation Does Not Count
There are two things that are important to understand when it comes to timelines in separation and divorce. The first is that you do not have to be separated six months (or any length of time) to file a petition for divorce. Please keep in mind that a legal separation and a divorce are two separate actions. Your marriage can only be terminated by a divorce (or annulment).
The second is that the time you were separated does not count toward the 6-month waiting requirement before a divorce can be finalized. Accordingly, even if you were separated for years, the clock does not start ticking until you file a petition for divorce in family court and serve the other party. You will also need to prove that the service was handled correctly by providing proof of service to the court.
Note – the Sacramento court offers a One Day Divorce Program for self-represented litigants who are at the final stage of their divorce.
A divorce officially starts when the petition is filed in family court and your spouse is served. There is no minimum waiting period to file for divorce. The sooner you file the divorce petition and serve your spouse, the sooner the divorce will be finalized—after the 6-month waiting period, of course.