Many divorces can take a long time because there involve complex issues to work out. Other divorces are simple and can be finalized quite quickly. Depending on the facts of your case and the attitudes of both parties, the length of your divorce case can vary. The Ventura divorce lawyers at The Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth explain.
How Long Does It Take to Get Divorced in CA?
On the short end, a divorce will take at least 6 months. In California, there is a waiting period that begins when you serve your spouse with divorce papers. The law requires you to wait 6 months before they will finalize your divorce. Note that this waiting period starts from the day you serve your spouse with divorce papers, not the day you file the divorce petition with the court – so the earlier you serve your spouse the divorce papers, the sooner the divorce can take place.
This may have originally started as a move to prevent spouses from rushing into a final decision hastily, but most people do not take the step of filing for divorce until they are already sure. Instead, this 6-month waiting period now gives the court time to schedule your court appearances and gives you and your spouse time to work out an agreement, if you decide to use an agreement.
Divorces take longer if one side contests the divorce. Any time there is pushback against the divorce, you can expect the court to have to hold hearings and listen to both sides’ arguments regarding asset division and other issues. If both parties are able to come to an agreement during the 6-month waiting period, things can progress smoothly, and your divorce may be finalized soon after the waiting period ends. The speed of your case also depends on how busy the local courthouse is.
If there are other issues involved in the divorce, the finalized case can take even longer. Cases involving spousal support, child custody disputes, and child support arguments can take longer to resolve than simple cases without these issues.
At the maximum, a single divorce case can take 5 years, because the petition expires after 5 years. If you have not gotten the divorce finalized within the 5-year period, you will actually need to start over and file for divorce again. Having your petition expire does resolve your case, so it is important to work quickly in a divorce case.
How to Speed Up a California Divorce Case
There are many ways to get your divorce quickly. In most situations, maximizing the way you use the 6-month waiting period is the best way to finalize your divorce quickly, but there may be other options for a quicker divorce.
Working out an agreement with your spouse is often the most efficient way to get your divorce over with quickly. If there is nothing left to debate in court and the judge is willing to accept the agreement you and your spouse drew up, then the judge can issue a final decree of divorce and resolve the case quickly. Without an agreement, the court has work to do – and that inevitably takes time, especially with a crowded court docket.
While you may not be able to get divorced immediately, you may be able to legally separate from your spouse. Moving apart or drawing up an agreement to separate may effectively end your spousal relationship, ending things like joint finances or shared property earlier, giving you some level of independence even if the divorce has not been finalized.
In some cases you may qualify for a “summary dissolution,” which can end your marriage as quickly as possible. This is only available if you were married for less than 5 years and you meet the following requirements:
- You have no children
- You don’t own shared real estate
- Any shared debt is under $6,000
- Any shared or individual assets are each under $41,000 (not including cars)
- No one wants alimony
- You have already agreed upon asset division
If you pursue divorce this way, there is still a 6-month delay for finalizing the divorce, but your divorce is automatically final on that date without further need to appear in court.
In some situations, a judge will allow you to “bifurcate” the divorce, which can grant you a divorce after 6 months and leave additional issues to be resolved later. This is especially helpful if you want to file your taxes under the “single” status or you are looking to get remarried quickly. Your divorce attorney may be able to help you file a motion for bifurcation to speed up your divorce, even if it does not resolve issues like asset division or child custody until later. Still, you must wait 6 months to get this kind of divorce.
Our Ventura, CA Divorce Lawyers Can Help with Your Divorce Case
An experienced divorce attorney knows what steps need to be taken and can help you manage the divorce process and complete necessary steps quickly and efficiently. Work with an attorney to minimize the amount of time your divorce takes. The Ventura family law attorneys at The Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth offer free consultations on divorce cases. Call (805) 585-5056 today to set up your free legal consultation with our attorneys.