If you are hoping to end your marriage as fast as possible in Murrieta, California, there are several factors to consider. Divorce is never simple, and even the most amicable dissolutions can have challenges along the way. Every case is unique, and though no one can tell you exactly how long your divorce will take, the process is much faster if both parties agree. The speed of this type of divorce, also known as an uncontested divorce, can depend on a few varying factors.
Quickest Divorce Timeline in California
As with any state, there are specific steps to take to successfully file for divorce in California. The process generally goes smoother and faster when both parties agree on the terms of the divorce and are willing to dissolve the marriage. California has a strict six-month waiting period for all divorces, so the quickest your divorce will become finalized is six months from the date of the first petition being filed. The waiting period is in place to ensure both parties are committed to divorcing and allows for any possible reconciliation.
Issues to Consider
Even if you and your ex-spouse are both willing to dissolve the marriage, you should consider what your divorce will entail in terms of a settlement agreement. Just because you agree on the divorce itself doesn’t mean you will agree on how to handle all the decisions that accompany divorce, such as:
- Property division. California considers almost all property obtained by either party during the marriage to be community property. For example, if you purchased a fishing boat yourself and are the only one who uses it, the boat is still considered shared property between you and your spouse. This can create issues when it is time to divide the property equally upon divorce.
- Spousal maintenance (alimony). If one partner earns significantly more money than the other, spousal maintenance may be necessary for the other partner to adjust to becoming a one-income household. The amount of this payment depends on the length of the marriage and the difference in earnings between each partner.
- Child custody and child support. Child custody cannot be decided outside of court. Parents can present the judge with a proposed agreement, but the final say comes down to what the court believes is in the best interest of the child. This usually involves allowing the child access to both parents. In general, divorce cases that involve children are more complex since the custody and support agreement can have an impact on other factors of the case, such as property division.
Ensuring the Process Moves Quickly
Even though the divorce cannot be legally finalized until six months have passed, there are steps you and your ex-partner can take to make the process go as smoothly and quickly as possible. To make the process simple for both of you, consider hiring an experienced Murrieta, California divorce attorney. A divorce attorney can help you navigate the process and ensure paperwork is completed accurately and that timelines are followed.
An attorney can also assist divorcing couples in reaching a marital settlement agreement, which could happen before the six-month waiting period is over. This is typically done through mediation, where both parties work together with the help of a neutral mediator to determine what is fair when it comes to the details of their divorce. If children are involved in your divorce, mediation alone won’t be an option, as a judge needs to look at the details of the case to determine what arrangement is in the best interest of the child. Divorcing parents can discuss and agree upon a tentative custody plan outside of court to present to a judge, but the judge will need to review and approve the plan before it is official.
Those who can settle on a marriage agreement prior to the six-month mark can have their divorce finalized after that six-month waiting period. If you still have terms to settle on after six months from the initial filing date, you will need to continue to work through those terms outside of court, or in the presence of a judge if you cannot agree. Both of these scenarios would delay the finalizing of the divorce past the six-month date.
FAQs About the Speed of Divorce
Here are some frequently asked questions to help you learn more about how long a divorce can take.
Q: How long do you have to be separated before filing for divorce in California?
A: There is no requirement for couples to be separated before filing for divorce in California.
Q: Is a summary dissolution faster than a regular divorce?
A: Some couples who meet specific requirements can end their marriage through a summary dissolution. This is an option for those who have been married for less than 5 years, meet specific residential requirements, have no children, do not want spousal support, have few assets and debts, and agree on how to split property. Unfortunately, even a summary dissolution is subject to a six-month waiting period, so it is not necessarily a faster option than a regular uncontested divorce.
Q: Can a divorce happen sooner if I am in danger?
A: Victims of domestic abuse can pursue a protective order against their spouse if there is reason to fear for their own or their children’s safety. Unfortunately, even in these instances, the couple still cannot bypass the six-month waiting period to obtain a divorce certificate.
Obtain Reliable Representation for your Divorce
Regardless of how agreeable you anticipate you and your ex might be during the divorce process, it is wise to have legal counsel on your side throughout the process. The experienced team at the Law Offices of Catherine A. Schwartz can help with mediation or litigation if necessary. Divorce is a highly emotional process, which can impact people’s ability to make sound decisions. A lawyer can help you make objective choices when unexpected challenges arise. Contact our team today to schedule a consultation and get on your way to a new chapter in life.