How Long Does a Divorce Take in California

Single mother with laptop and baby

If you are searching for an answer to the question, “How long does a divorce take in California?” then you have arrived at the correct page. Unfortunately, there is no single, definitive answer to this question since there is no fixed duration for divorce proceedings in California. Just like every marriage is unique, every divorce is unique, and the timeframe for ending the marriage will depend on the facts and circumstances specific to your situation. 

Though it is worth noting, there are specific time periods that must be met in order to reach the proverbial finish line in a divorce proceeding. For example, there is a mandatory waiting period of half a year before a divorce can be finalized in California. In addition, once you officially file for divorce and serve your spouse, there is a waiting period of 180 days (i.e., six months) before you are able to secure a divorce decree and become officially divorced.

Despite the unique, ever-fluctuating timeframe applicable to divorce proceedings, there are general time estimates for specific types of divorce filings. For example, if you and your spouse file for a “no-fault” divorce in California, the general amount of time it will take to get that divorce finalized is around 15 months. If, on the other hand, you file a “fault” divorce, the time estimate varies widely and will depend primarily on the complexity of your case. Nevertheless, it is reasonable to expect a fault divorce to take months, and even years, to get fully resolved. 


California Divorce Process

The California divorce process typically entails taking the following actions:

  • Retrieve the necessary paperwork 
  • Submit the completed paperwork with the relevant Clerk of Court and formally file for divorce 
  • Serve your spouse with divorce papers 
  • Allow 30 days for your spouse to file an official response (also known as an “Answer”) 
  • Once your spouse files their response or 30 days lapses, the six-month waiting period commences
  • Try to utilize this waiting period to reach an amicable settlement agreement with your spouse 
  • Once you surpass the six-month waiting period and you have a divorce agreement in place with your spouse, you can submit the agreement to the court for review and request a formal termination of your marriage

So, if you are able to resolve all disputes with your spouse during the six-month waiting period, you could conceivably complete the California divorce process and have the matter finalized within half a year. Though, divorce is not a purely transactional legal proceeding. There are sensitive, emotionally-charged issues that need to be discussed and resolved, especially when the divorcing couple has kids, a home, assets, debts, and other “hot button” issues. The disagreements and challenges arising from these matters are typically why it takes closer to 15 months (if not longer) for a divorce to get finalized in California.  

Talk to an Attorney Specializing in Divorce in California

If you are considering filing for divorce in California, take the time to speak with an experienced and knowledgeable Marin County family law attorney like Jeremy Castro. The legal team with Castro Law Offices, P.C. stands ready to help you during this difficult period in your life. Jeremy possesses the experience you need to handle an array of complex divorce matters. Contact his office today so Jeremy can go to work for you.

Featured Blogs

Stay Updated