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What Causes a Divorce to Take Longer Than the Six-Month Waiting Period?

Posted on August 1st, 2023

Divorce is often an emotionally challenging experience and can even take a toll on one’s physical health. When most couples finally decide to divorce, they want to finish the process as quickly as possible. However, divorce is never finalized by just signing the papers.

In most states, there is a waiting period between filing a divorce and when a marriage is legally terminated. This period can range from days and months to even years in some states. In addition, some divorce proceedings in California can take even longer than the six-month mandatory waiting period. So, why is this the case? How can you speed up the process?

What is a Waiting Period and Why is it Compulsory in California?

divorce time period

A waiting period or a cooling-off period is the timeline between the date a divorce petition is filed to when the marriage is legally dissolved. In California, the waiting period is six months.

You may wonder what is with all the wait, yet you are ready to divorce. Well, California courts uphold and encourage the preservation of marriage. As a result, when couples decide to file for divorce, the reasons could be emotionally charged, leading to wanting a divorce.

The waiting period gives parties involved the time to reconsider their decisions and possibly resolve their issues through negotiation. Additionally, it ensures that divorce is only granted once all legal requirements are met. Divorces can be emotionally and legally complex, and it is best to seek guidance from an experienced divorce attorney to help with your situation.

Factors That Can Impact Your Divorce Timeline

Most divorces take at least six months to one year, but this timeline can differ as no two divorces are the same. Several circumstances can cause this difference, including:

Type of Divorce

The divorce type determines the duration it takes to be finalized. Unlike uncontested divorces, contested divorces often take longer than the six-month waiting period. A contested divorce is where parties cannot agree on the terms, and sometimes the divorce may go to trial. Trials take months to prepare and several weeks to get through itself, which can ultimately affect the duration of your divorce.

However, when you and your soon-to-be ex agree on all issues in the divorce (uncontested divorce), you can quickly settle and dissolve your marriage soon after the expiry of the mandatory waiting period.

Residency Requirements

While you may have decided to divorce your spouse, you must meet the residency requirements in California. This means you must have lived in the state for a certain period, usually six months, before you can file for divorce. If you do not meet the state’s residency requirements, you will have to wait until you do, which can delay your divorce.

The Complexity of the Case

As mentioned earlier, not two divorces are similar, and the complexity of your specific case determines the duration the divorce takes. For example, if parties disagree on key issues like property division, child custody, and support, the divorce will likely take longer than the six-month cooling-off time.

Level of Conflict

Most couples divorce because they no longer wish to stay married, but some marriages are more volatile than others. If you are in a high-conflict marriage and you and your spouse cannot talk through issues, your divorce may take longer.

Hidden Assets

Some spouses choose not to disclose all their assets, which can increase the time it takes to finalize the divorce. This is because a family law attorney must investigate to ensure all assets are disclosed. Divorce can take a long time if you or your spouse attempts to hide properties.

Problems Serving the Spouse

One of the initial steps in a divorce is serving your spouse. If you are having issues serving your spouse with the divorce papers, such as when they are avoiding being served or when you have to employ different tactics to serve them, this can result in the divorce taking longer than the six-month waiting period.

Ways to Speed Up Your Divorce

While you cannot avoid waiting periods and residency requirements, there are a few things you can do to move your divorce along much faster.

  • Consider using alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) methods
  • Try to talk through issues with your spouse with the guidance of an attorney
  • Share all necessary paperwork and information
  • Organize your estate

Experienced Divorce Attorneys at the Harris Family Law Group are Here to Help

An experienced divorce attorney can help you navigate the complexities of divorce and finalize the process much quicker. Whether your divorce is contested or uncontested, the skilled Los Angeles divorce attorneys at the Harris Family Law Group can guide you through the process to protect your rights and ensure your divorce is completed more quickly. Contact us at 310-745-8644 to schedule your free consultation today.