2024 How Long Does a Divorce in California Take?

By Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP | Feb 20, 2024

Despite being far more common than it was decades ago, divorce remains a significant life event that should not be taken lightly. Nevertheless, for some, divorce may represent a process they want to go ahead and get over with as soon as possible. In 2024, how long does a divorce in California take?

Getting a divorce in California requires following certain regulations that prevent it from being a quick process. Even for those who meet all the requirements and are ready to complete it, the entire process will take no less than six months. However, for those who are ready to file for divorce, we can highlight some of the ways to expedite the process wherever possible, guiding you through the necessary legal steps.

Who Qualifies for a Divorce in California?

To start, in order to file for divorce in California, you must meet certain requirements. The following are the minimum residency requirements to legally file for divorce:

  • At least one spouse must be a resident of California for at least six months prior to filing.
  • At least one spouse must be a resident of the county in which they are filing for three months.

If one or both of you meet this requirement already, then you can begin the filing process. However, if neither of you meet these requirements, you will either need to file in a different state or wait until you do.

Tip: File before moving. Some individuals may be tempted to move residences as a part of an official or non-official separation. However, if you legally relocate before filing for divorce, you may cause delays while establishing residency requirements in your new county or state.

How Do I File for Divorce in California?

Once you meet the residency requirements, you can legally file for divorce. This is legally known as filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage in the state. From here, your spouse will have 30 days to respond to this notice. If they fail to respond within 30 days, you can proceed with what’s known as a default divorce. Doing so will allow you to proceed with the divorce process even without their input.

Tip: Work with a qualified Orange County divorce attorney to ensure that all documentation and requirements are met and properly completed to avoid any further delays.

What Happens After I File for Divorce?

Once you’ve filed for divorce and your spouse has responded, there is a mandatory six-month waiting period before the divorce can be considered final. However, there is much you can pursue and accomplish during this time. For instance, you should get started with negotiations in order to reach an agreed settlement on divorce terms and arrangements for child custody, spousal support, and property division.

Tip: Consider alternative dispute resolution options, such as mediation. Settling a divorce out of court is more efficient and can save you on legal fees.

How Do I Finalize My Divorce?

Before a divorce can be considered finalized, you and your spouse will have to reach a settlement agreeing to all the divorce terms and arrangements. If an agreement cannot be reached, your divorce case will go to court, where a judge will eventually establish a settlement for you.

If you and your spouse were able to come to an agreement before the case went to trial, such as through mediation, then you will be ready to submit the agreement for court review. While a judge will still need to approve and finalize the settlement, reaching an agreement before the waiting period has elapsed can ensure you finalize in as short a time as possible.

How Long Does A Divorce Take in California?

If you are getting a divorce, you have most likely searched for information regarding the process. We know it can be overwhelming. There are legal forms you must consider, along with division of property, child custody, and spousal support to think about. Please remember that you do not have to face all of this alone. Having an experienced California divorce lawyer on your side can speed up the process and reduce stress.

You may be wondering how long it will take to finalize your divorce. The answer, in short, is that it could take a minimum of 6 months and a maximum of 5 years. The only way to know how long yours will take is to understand how the proceedings work and to consider your unique circumstances.

What Types of Divorce Are There in California?

There are four main types of divorce in our state. Your specific circumstances determine which of these categories you’ll fall under.

  • No-fault divorce. California operates on a no-fault system. This means you do not have to submit an accusation against your spouse to be granted a divorce.
  • Uncontested divorce. In an uncontested divorce, both parties come to a mutual agreement on the terms. These terms can include issues such as property division, financial issues, spousal support, child custody and visitation, and any other applicable issues.
  • Simplified divorce or summary dissolution. You must jointly file under a no-fault ground of irreconcilable difference. You must have been married less than five years, have no children, and own no property together.
  • Limited Divorce. A limited divorce is similar to a legal separation.

What Forms Are Needed for a Divorce Petition?

The process starts with you submitting Form FL-100, Petition for Dissolution, and Form LF-110, Summons, to your local court. Once those forms are accounted for, you will serve the papers to your spouse. They will then need to file a Form FL-115, Proof of Service of Summons.

What is the Process of Divorce in California?

  1. File a divorce petition. To file for divorce in California, you must submit the necessary forms. If you and your spouse have children together, there may be additional paperwork to file.
  2. Serve the divorce papers. You can serve these papers yourself or have someone do it for you. If you choose to have someone else do it, they must be at least 18 years old.
  3. File a response. The spouse who receives the papers must file a response within 30 days. If they do not respond, the court can issue a default judgment.
  4. Submit a settlement agreement. If both parties agree with the divorce settlement terms, you may submit your signed settlement to the court.
  5. The waiting period. There is a 6-month waiting period for a divorce in our state. This period begins when the divorce papers are filed and ends with the court’s final judgment.
  6. Final judgment and termination. Once the 6-month waiting period is over, the court will review the settlement agreement and issue a judgment outlining the division of assets, custody agreements, and any other necessary terms.

What Happens When the Divorce Is Contested?

While an uncontested divorce is ideal, many are contested. This can slow down the timeline significantly. Issues arise when one or both parties are unable to agree on settlement terms. Some of the common areas that cause disagreements are spousal support, child custody, or property division.

Most contested divorces must be resolved in court. This allows both parties the opportunity to present their case and provide evidence supporting their claims. It is then up to the judge to make a decision on how to settle the terms, who will be granted what, and when the termination is official.

Because contested divorces typically take longer to resolve, they can increase expenses and add heartache. Having a California divorce lawyer to guide you through the process can save you time, money, and stress.



In 2024, How Long Does a Divorce in California Take?

Getting a divorce in California takes at least six months, as there are several major requirements to fulfill before one can be finalized. First, you must establish residency, which means living as a resident of the state for at least six months and in the county in which you’ll file for at least three. After filing, there is a six-month waiting period. The divorce will then be finalized following the waiting period, provided you both agree to all terms.

How Long Is the Waiting Period for Divorce in California?

The waiting period for a divorce in California is six months. This starts on the date the petition for divorce is filed in court. Because of the significant legal, financial, and relational impacts of a divorce, this waiting purpose serves to provide the couple with an opportunity to reconsider and potentially reconcile. If a couple does not reconcile, then they can legally finalize their divorce as early as one day after the six months have elapsed.

How Long Does a Divorce Take in California If One Party Doesn’t Agree?

If both parties agree on all matters of a divorce, it will take a minimum of six months and one day. However, if one party does not agree, this time frame can become protracted much further. The mediation and negotiation phases of the divorce proceedings can take three to six months alone. Most divorces take months to resolve, with some even taking years. On average, it takes 15 months to get a divorce in California.

How Can I Speed Up My Divorce in California?

It is important when preparing for a divorce to set up reasonable goals and expectations for timelines for your divorce proceedings. The most effective way to speed it up, however, is by coming to agreements. An uncontested divorce is the quickest way to dissolve a marriage in California. For a divorce to be uncontested, all parties must agree on the conditions of the divorce, including property division, spousal support, and child support.

How Long Does a Divorce Take From Start to Finish in California?

California has a six-month waiting period that applies to all divorce types. It takes a minimum of six months for a divorce to become official. This waiting period begins the day you file the petition for divorce. This process is complete once this period ends and the court has issued final judgments and granted termination.

What is the Timeline for Default in California Divorce?

The timeline for a default divorce in California is 30 days from the day papers are served. It is important to note that if you are the one who has received divorce papers from your spouse, you must file a response with the court within 30 days. If you fail to do this, your divorce will move forward, but you will lose your voice in the settlement arrangements.

How Soon Can a Divorce Be Finalized if Both Parties Agree?

A divorce in California can take as little as six months if both parties agree on the terms. This time starts when you file the necessary forms with the court. Once you’ve taken all the steps, your case enters the required six-month waiting period. At the end of this period, the court will issue a judgment and termination.

How Can I Speed Up My Divorce in California?

Ensuring that you are eligible for divorce in California is the first step. You or your spouse must be a resident of the state for at least six months and a resident of the county you are filing in for at least three months. Coming to a settlement agreement as quickly as possible is another way to speed things up. Having the guidance of an experienced divorce lawyer helps.

Having a California Divorce Lawyer Can Simplify Your Divorce

There is a lot to know when filing for divorce in California, and we know it can feel daunting. The team at Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP, is ready to ensure that every step is taken correctly and your rights are protected. We work hard for our clients and use our experience to walk you through the process of divorce as quickly and smoothly as possible. If you are ready to take the first step, contact us today to see how we can help.

Talk With a Qualified Orange County Divorce Lawyer Today

There are some processes that no one wants to draw out longer than necessary. Divorce can often be a draining experience physically, emotionally, legally, and financially. A qualified and skilled divorce attorney, like those at Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP, can help you through the entire process as efficiently as possible, ensuring that all considerations are addressed and all regulations are followed.

To discuss your options or to get started, contact our office today.

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