How Fast Can I Get a Divorce in California?

It’s not uncommon for spouses to be in a hurry to get through the divorce process. Depending on the separation circumstances, they may be in quite a hurry to move on with their lives. Whatever the reason, people often feel that they can’t wait to get their divorce behind them, and it’s one of the most common concerns divorce attorneys hear the most.

So how fast can someone get a divorce in California? According to California divorce laws, couples can only get divorced if they’ve lived in the state for at least six months. Bar that, the only other factors are how quickly you and your spouse can agree to the issues addressed by divorce. Here are some of the events that can speed up or (slow down) a California divorce.

Incomplete or Improperly-Filed Paperwork

Many people seeking to divorce as quickly as possible believe the first step is to file the relevant paperwork with their court. They may feel such a hurry that they do this themselves. Unfortunately, this approach often creates the first costly hurdle in expediting the process.

The first step should instead be to seek out an experienced family law attorney. A California family law attorney will make sure everything is filled out and filed correctly on your behalf. Any errors you make with the paperwork will delay the remainder of the divorce process and only serve to drag out the process and make it more costly than it already is, so save yourself the trouble and contact legal counsel early. 

Even if you do complete the initial paperwork on your own, an attorney can help you in other areas of the divorce, especially if you and your spouse aren’t on the best terms and communication breaks down (as if often does at one point or another during the process). 

You’re also required to serve notice to your spouse that you’ve filed for divorce, which you can do on the same day you file. From here, your spouse has thirty days to file a response. If they respond, and how they respond, could set a trial in motion. If they choose not to respond, a judge may make a default judgment. However, California has a mandatory six-month waiting period starting from when you serve your spouse before a judge’s decision goes into effect. That means that even a quick ruling won’t go into effect until that six-month period ends. 

Disagreements Between Spouses

When it comes time for the division of property in divorce, California follows community property standards. The law defines community property as any assets (including property and income) that either party in a marriage acquired during the marriage. With community property, the division of property in a divorce sees each side getting half the total value of all assets.

Commingling property complicates this and is often where disagreements emerge. Property is commingling if its ownership can’t immediately be defined. The property you owned before getting married remains yours, but other circumstances can complicate matters. Often, this happens when one spouse helps another make payments for something, or they agree to share something before getting married.

You and your spouse can avoid commingling property issues if you can agree on how to separate property. California courts allow for couples to draw up their own agreements to split assets. However, an inability to cooperate will lead to even more delays as the judge and lawyers try to sort it out.

The same thing can occur with child custody disputes, child support, and alimony payments. In all of these instances, couples can work with their lawyers to draw up their own agreements and have them approved by a judge. Not doing so leads to an extensive discovery process designed to give the judge the most evidence possible so that they can make an appropriate ruling. 

Maintaining communication, no matter how difficult, is essential to resolving your divorce as quickly as possible. If you find you can’t cooperate with your spouse, your lawyers can work as mediators. If you are unable to work with your spouse to reach amicable agreements for some reason, it falls on the court to do its work. Unfortunately, there’s no timeframe for how long it has to take and no guarantee that the court will do it quickly. 

Disrupting the Process or Not Cooperating

It may sound similar to the previous point, but it’s very different. Instead of focusing on how you communicate with your spouse during proceedings, we’re talking about your attitude. How you act towards anyone involved in the divorce can have consequences, including slowing the whole process down.

People know that they shouldn’t be combative during their divorce, but it’s still an emotionally trying time for everyone involved. Still, it would be best if you practiced controlling yourself. Lashing out at others or being defensive only serves to interrupt things. In particularly bad cases, being combative will cast you in a poor light and likely affect the final ruling.

You should also be concerned with how you interact with your lawyer. You’ve hired them to help you, but they may choose to stop providing their services if you don’t treat them with respect. You also need to be honest with them. With issues like child custody and property and divorce, clients sometimes hide relevant information to protect themselves or try to skew the final verdict in their favor. Doing so not only leads to a lengthier discovery process but can convince your lawyer to leave your case.

The key to getting your divorce settled is to work with the proceedings. Do what’s asked of you by the judge and your lawyer. Don’t do anything to obstruct the proceedings or could be seen as trying to derail things. If you have pressing concerns, address them to your lawyer in private.

Notes On Uncontested Divorce

A divorce trial only happens when your spouse files an objection after you initially serve them. If they agree to the divorce, you can avoid a trial entirely. Remember that you still need to wait through the six-month grace period before it’s official, but if you want a fast divorce, an uncontested divorce is ideal.

If you and your spouse agree to divorce before you file, you and your lawyers can also work out agreements beforehand to make the process even faster. Your lawyer can help finalize arrangements before presenting them to a judge. If accepted, there won’t be a trial.

Azemika Law Can Help You

If you need help understanding the complexities of California divorce laws or would like an experienced attorney to help you work through divorce as efficiently as possible, call on our attorneys at Azemika & Azemika
We are experts in Kern County family law who bring compassion and honesty to everything that we do. We’ll treat you and your family with respect and confidentiality as we help you achieve the best outcome possible. Contact us today to learn more about our expertise and what we can do to help you.

Read more

What is a collaborative divorce?

The traditional divorce process can be incredibly stressful. Lengthy litigation, court costs, examination, and hostile feelings between spouses can affect all involved mentally, emotionally, and