2024 How Long Does a Divorce Take in California?

If you were recently served divorce papers or filed for divorce, you may ask yourself, “How long does a divorce take in California?” Once the difficult decision to divorce has been made, many people would rather complete the process of legally ending a marriage sooner rather than later. There are many factors that can impact the time it takes to complete a divorce, including the mandatory wait time implemented by California law.

As you move forward with the process of dividing your estate, the guidance of a family law specialist is essential to safeguarding your rights. At TDC Family Law, our Certified Family Law Specialist is well-versed in the state’s family law regulations and proficient in courtroom litigation. We can help you navigate the legal complexities and ensure the most favorable outcome for your case.

California’s Divorce Waiting Period

California has a mandatory six-month waiting period that begins the moment one spouse files for divorce. The divorce cannot be finalized until six months have elapsed from the date of the initial filing. The reasoning behind the waiting period is twofold. First, it affords both parties time to reflect on their decision to divorce. Two, it provides time for both parties to do the often difficult work of dividing assets and coming to agreements on issues like spousal support and child custody.

There are no exceptions to the six-month waiting period. Hiring an attorney during this time period can be very helpful. If you are looking to finalize your divorce sooner than later, an attorney can have your affairs in order and the necessary legal paperwork completed so that your divorce can be finalized soon after the mandatory waiting period has elapsed. This is especially true if your spouse is making the divorce process complicated.

Separation Before Divorce

There is a residency requirement for divorcing in California. Before either spouse can file for divorce, at least one spouse must have lived in California for at least six months, and they must have lived in the county where the divorce is to be filed for at least three months.

Some couples who do not meet this requirement opt for legal separation during this time period. During the legal separation period, you and your spouse can work to settle matters like child custody and asset division.

Factors That Could Lengthen a Divorce

If you or your spouse meet the eligibility requirements for filing for divorce, your absolute shortest timeline for finalizing the divorce is six months and one day after the initial filing. While achieving that goal is theoretically possible, many factors can lead to delays in the divorce process. It is not uncommon for a divorce to take upward of a year or longer to settle.

One factor is the complexity of the case. Six months may sound like a lot of time, but dividing property and assets is often very time-consuming. Both spouses must account for all of their assets and debts. Then, they must determine what is community property and what is personal property.

Divorces that are high in conflict often take several months or longer to resolve. It only takes one unreasonable spouse to cause delays in the divorce process. In the end, both parties must come to an agreement to avoid the need for a judge to make rulings on the case. The longer a divorce takes to finalize, the more expensive it will become.

Divorces are very emotional, and people can get caught up in matters of estate division and child visitation. One way you can lower the risk of this cause of delays is to hire a family law attorney who has experience settling high-conflict cases. One possible remedy for a high-conflict divorce case is to go to mediation, where a mediator will work to help both parties come to an agreement that can then be signed by a judge.


Q: How Long Does the Average Divorce Take in California?

A: The divorce process in California takes at least six months. The waiting period begins the day one spouse files for divorce. Some cases can be finalized soon after the waiting period. Many divorce cases take considerably longer, especially when both parties cannot agree to the terms of a divorce. If both parties are fairly cooperative, the divorce could reasonably be finalized several months to a year from the date of the initial filing.

Q: How Long Does it Take to Get a Divorce in California if Both Parties Agree?

A: If both parties agree to the divorce and are cooperative in dividing the estate and agreeing on child visitation schedules, the divorce could be finalized in just over six months from the date of the initial court filing. This is an optimistic timeline, though, and anyone preparing to file for divorce should be aware that delays are common.

Q: Can You Date While Going Through a Divorce in California?

A: There is no law against dating while going through a divorce. California is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that marital misconduct is not considered in a divorce. If either party had an affair during the marriage, that would not have an effect on the division of assets and other parts of a divorce proceeding. Matters of physical or verbal abuse could be considered by the courts, however, especially when it pertains to child custody.

Q: What Is a Wife Entitled to in a Divorce in California?

A: Both spouses in a marriage are entitled to a fair and equitable division of property and assets that were acquired during the divorce. There are no special considerations for either husband or wife. The courts view spouses as equal partners in marriage who are entitled to half of the assets that are deemed community property.

Schedule Your California Divorce Consultation Today

Divorces can be tiring and emotionally taxing. It is natural to want to finalize a divorce as soon as possible. At TDC Family Law, our family law team will work to help you meet your goals. While some elements of your divorce may be uncontrollable, like the level of cooperation from your spouse, having the right attorney in your corner can help shorten the timeline of your divorce. Contact our law office today so we can schedule a consultation.


1530 The Alameda, Suite 108
San Jose, CA 95126

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TDC Family Law serves the entire state of California for Contempt of Court and Private Settlement Judge & Mediation

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