This is highly case dependent, but the shortest possible time to complete a divorce in California is six months plus one day.
Although six months is the earliest time you can be restored to the status of single, many divorces take much longer.
The good news is that there are ways to make the process move quickly so that the divorce is finished as close to the six-month minimum as possible. There are also things people can do to drag the process out and prevent a timely resolution.
Things you can do to speed up the process
Here are some ways to expedite the process:
- Find an attorney, mediator who specializes in either collaborative divorce or divorce mediation, or other parties who will play a role in the process
- Schedule meetings or mediation sessions
- Get all your financial paperwork organized
- Organize personal property
- Resolve as many divorce-related matters as you can, including property division, child support, child custody and spousal support
- Reach full agreements and have it approved by the court
Things you can do to slow the process down
Alternatively, there are many ways to slow the process during or following the waiting period. This includes:
- Waiting to serve the divorce paperwork, which is what starts the six-month clock
- Pursuing litigation instead of mediation or collaborative divorce
- Failing to respond to legal requests in a timely manner
- Holding back financial documentation or information
- Requiring several sessions to resolve divorce-related matters
Whether your goal is to move through the divorce process quickly or slowly, plan for any divorce in California to take at least six months. What you do during that time and once the waiting period expires will be critical to the timeframe of your divorce, so think carefully about what you want to do or what you want to avoid.