2024 How Long Does a Divorce Take in California?

Divorce is a life-altering event that can affect you in many ways and for many years to come. Even if you are in favor of divorce, and know that you have made the right choice, the process can still be daunting and complex. A divorce is a legal proceeding that requires the involvement of the court system to be finalized. Unfortunately, this process can take longer than you anticipate, and definitely longer than you’d ultimately like. Although working with a skilled Divorce Lawyer in Anaheim, CA, can help speed up the process, there are still important procedures that must be followed.

Steps to Getting a Divorce

There are four major components to getting a divorce for both married couples and those in a domestic partnership:

  • Start a Divorce Case
    The spouse that wants the divorce must file paperwork with the court to begin the case, as well as officially inform the other spouse of the beginnings of the divorce proceedings. The other spouse then has 30 days to respond to the official notification.
  • Share Financial Information
    Sharing all financial information is a requirement for a divorce or legal separation to proceed. The spouse that initiated the divorce will share their information first, in what is called a disclosure or a financial disclosure, then the responding spouse will also share their information. These forms will include what you own, earn, owe, and spend. They will later be used to divide all finances during the divorce. These documents are shared with your spouse, and then a form is filed with the court to inform the judge that these requirements were met.
  • Make Decisions
    The longest portion of a divorce is generally making decisions on matters like property, assets, debt, child custody and support, and spousal support. There are two main methods for making these decisions: working with your partner or having the court decide. In an amicable divorce, it may be possible for the couple to work together to settle all divorce-related decisions. If one spouse chooses not to respond to the divorce, or the couple cannot reach decisions on aspects of their divorce, the court will step in and make the final decision.
  • Finalize the Divorce
    Once all the divorce-related matters have been settled, the final set of divorce papers must be submitted. The court will review the documents you submit to ensure there are no mistakes on the forms and nothing is missing. If everything is done correctly, the judge will sign these final forms. This judgment will state the exact date that the marriage will end.

Once the judgment has been approved by the court, there is a mandatory six-month waiting period before the divorce can be final. This waiting period cannot be waived, so the earliest that a divorce can be finalized is six months and one day after the divorce petition was correctly served on the recipient spouse. Even if a final judgment has been signed during this waiting period, the couple must follow the terms of the judgment. They are not considered single people until the waiting period ends.

Divorce Proceeding Length

Per California law, all divorces must have a mandatory six-month waiting period once the non-filing spouse has received the divorce petition. Although a divorce can be finalized in that span, it is generally not completed by the waiting period’s end. The average timeline for most no-fault California divorces is just over one year. This timeline can extend for years if the spouses are unable to decide on how to end the marriage or other factors, such as child support. The court system does not work quickly, and getting multiple court dates to resolve issues will delay progress. In a fault divorce, the timeline becomes much more variable and can also take between six months and multiple years.


Q: Can I Shorten the Divorce Waiting Period If I Am Being Abused by My Spouse or Partner?

A: There is no way to bypass the six-month waiting period for a divorce. The law allows for no exceptions or waivers. In the event of domestic violence, you can have your relationship officially regulated by appealing for a restraining order. A skilled divorce attorney can help you request a restraining order to help keep you safe from your partner.

Q: Will a Fault-Based or No-Fault Divorce Take Longer?

A: The length of a divorce will depend entirely on the specific circumstances of that divorce. At their fastest, both types of divorces can take no less than six months. However, a fault-based divorce will require evidence collection and submission to prove that the accused committed the fault. It is possible for this to draw out a divorce, but a divorce can also be drawn out in a no-fault situation if the parties cannot agree on how to split marital assets.

Q: What Is the Fastest That I Can Get Divorced in California?

A: The absolute shortest timeframe for a divorce to be finalized is six months and one day after the non-filing spouse receives the official notification of divorce proceedings. There is no possible way to bypass this waiting period. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for divorces to take longer than six months as the couple plans how to separate their lives and split their community property.

Q: What Happens If I or My Spouse Hide Financial Information in the Divorce?

A: Both parties in a divorce are required to disclose their full financial picture. Failing to divulge parts, or fabricating numbers, in a divorce can cause the judge to issue sanctions to the offending spouse. These sanctions can include paying the other spouse’s legal fees or granting higher alimony payments to the innocent spouse.

Dedicated Divorce Lawyer

You may be approaching your divorce with the intent of finishing it as quickly as possible so that you can move forward with your single life. Rushing your divorce can feel like the right course of action, but attempting to quickly finalize your divorce can have costly consequences. Mistakes, such as forgetting paperwork or missing assets that you may be entitled to, are issues that can arise if you rush your divorce. Contact Moranda Law Firm, APC, for a consultation on how we can help you successfully emerge from your divorce.

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