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What Is the 6 Month Rule for Divorce in California?

The 6-month rule for divorce in California stipulates that at least six months must pass from the time a divorce petition is served before a court can finalize the divorce. This period is intended to provide couples ample time to reconsider their decision and either move forward with the divorce or potentially reconcile.

In California, the fastest a couple can divorce is six (6) months and one (1) day.

Why Does California Have a 6-Month Waiting Period?

California’s 6-month waiting period is designed to offer a mandatory cooling-off period for couples contemplating divorce. This timeframe allows for reflection, negotiation, and the possibility of resolving differences amicably. The state recognizes that divorce is a significant life decision and aims to give couples a necessary window to ensure all factors have been considered before finalizing their separation.

Can The Waiting Period Be Shortened?

No, the mandatory 6-month waiting period cannot be shortened. California law requires this period for all divorces, regardless of the circumstances. Even if both parties fully agree on all terms, including child custody, property division, and support, the court will only issue a final judgment once the six months have elapsed.

What Factors Can Slow Down a Divorce?

While six months is the fastest a couple can divorce, most divorces take much longer than this. On average, couples wishing to divorce should assume the process will take around a year. This is because several factors can slow down the divorce process.

Factors that may delay the divorce process beyond the mandatory 6-month period include:

  • Disputed issues: If the couple cannot agree on key matters such as child custody, property division, or spousal support, the case may require additional hearings or even a trial to resolve these disputes.
  • Document preparation: Incomplete or improperly filled-out paperwork can cause delays. Both parties must ensure all required documents are accurately completed and submitted on time.
  • Court availability: The court’s schedule can also impact the timeline. High caseloads or limited court dates may extend the time required to finalize the divorce.
  • Mandatory child custody mediation: In California, couples may be required to engage in child custody mediation, which can add time to the process. Additionally, if one parent fails to attend mediation, the process is further delayed.

What Happens After the 6-Month Period?

Once the 6-month waiting period has concluded, the court can issue a final judgment of dissolution of marriage. This marks the official end of the marriage, and both parties are legally recognized as single.

Remember, divorce is not automatic after six months; the necessary steps and paperwork must still be completed and approved by the court.

What Should We Do If Six Months Have Passed & We Haven't Resolved All Issues?

If six months have passed and not all issues are resolved, the divorce process will continue until all matters are settled. If necessary, couples can request a court hearing to address outstanding issues. Additionally, options such as mediation or arbitration can be pursued to reach an agreement more efficiently.

Turn to an Attorney to Resolve Disputes

If you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse have issues agreeing to a divorce settlement, consulting with legal counsel is recommended. An experienced divorce attorney, like ours at The Law Office of David A. Martin & Associates, can provide valuable guidance, represent you during negotiations, and help you uncover options for resolution you may be unaware of. Furthermore, if your case requires litigation, having a legal advocate with you is encouraged.

Are you struggling to come to terms with your former spouse? Contact our firm online to schedule a consultation with one of our divorce attorneys.